Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 17, 2021


Location: Johnson Canyon, west of McKenna Park. 3 miles west of Gila Cliff Dwellings, Wilderness Ranger District, Catron County, NM

Start Date: May 20, 2021                                Size: ~73,069 acres                                           Cause: Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass      Total Personnel: 198                                         Containment: 11%

Resources:  3 Interagency Hotshot Crews, 3 handcrew modules, 1 Type 2 Initial Attack crew, 7 Type 6 Engines, 4 Water Tenders, and 2 Type 3 Helicopters and 1 Type 2 Helicopter.

Summary:  The Johnson Fire is approximately 73,069 acres and is burning in the Gila Wilderness on the Gila National Forest. The acreage figure has not been updated today as an infrared (IR) flight was not flown last evening. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain.  In the evening hours the fire will appear both larger and closer than it is due to the inability to reference its size to any physical landmarks.  Paul Diaz’s Type 3 Incident Management Team is managing the fire while the Gila Las Cruces Team takes required days off. Yesterday, crews continued to work fire tendrils that have burned into the Good Fire burn scar. Helicopter water drops were used in Water Canyon to slow fire movement to the southeast. On the north side, fire crews continue to assess protection strategies around the Willow Creek area. Fire crews will start to pull out of the White Creek area today and the area will be patrolled from horseback. The fire perimeter continues to be monitored from the air.

Objectives: Provide for public and firefighter safety and allow fire to play its natural role on the landscape. Values at risk are the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, White Creek Cabin, and sensitive aquatic species in the Gila Wilderness.

Fire Behavior: Moderate, with flanking, creeping, and backing. 

Closures:  Due to hazardous fire conditions in the Johnson Fire area, an Emergency Area Closure order has been issued by the Gila National Forest for public health and safety. A large portion of the Gila Wilderness is CLOSED.  For a copy of the order and maps see:  As a reminder “The Celebration Site-Skates area,” Johnson Fire Camp is closed to camping. For further information call 575-536-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103 (any time before 7:00 p.m.)

Weather: High pressure remains over the region, keeping temperatures hot and above normal. This weather pattern will also keep the air mass quite dry, especially near the surface, where dew points and humidity will continue to be very low, with little overnight recovery. High pressure will keep the winds mostly light. This pattern is expected to continue into the weekend, with slight daily chances for storms.

Air Quality:  Silver City and Gila Cliff Dwellings are expected to experience “Good” air quality today. Cliff and Glenwood, NM should see improving smoke dispersal throughout the day. Smoke from the Johnson Fire will be visible from NM Highway 15, NM Hwy 35, and US Highway 180. Smoke monitors have been placed at  Gila Center (Unit #1076), Silver City, NM (Unit #1074), Cliff, NM (Unit #1054) and Glenwood, NM (Unit #1075), to assess smoke impacts, and can be viewed at see the New Mexico Department of Health site also known as 5-3-1, for guidance on mitigating your smoke exposure.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures by staying inside during heavy smoke periods and avoiding outdoor activities.

Announcement: The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument will re-open at 9am Thursday, June 17. Drivers in the area at that time are urged to use caution, as large semi-trucks will be moving south along NM Hwy 15 from the Cliff Dwellings to the Johnson Fire Camp on NM Hwy 35.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: