Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 19, 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: ~83,096 acres                                          Cause: Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass      Total Personnel: 181                                         Containment: 11%

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

Summary:  Yesterday, active backing fire behavior was observed southwest of the Mogollon Baldy lookout. The southeast corner of the fire remains active as it begins to approach the Gila River. Crews continue to tie the active fire into the old burn area from last year’s Good Fire. Water drops will continue on the southeast flank of the fire in Hell Canyon and Water Canyon. Crews on the north side of the fire will continue to scout and prepare lines and assess structures in the Willow Creek area. The southern portion of the fire is being patrolled by 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: Another hot day is expected today, with slightly higher temperatures and lower humidity than yesterday. Afternoon thunderstorms could occur, which would bring chances of dry lightning and gusty winds.

Air Quality:  T or C and Glenwood will experience moderate smoke this morning. Silver City may get smoke overnight into Sunday morning. Smoke will concentrate in low lying areas in the early mornings and dissipate as the day heats up. 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 (Unit #1074), Cliff (Unit #1054), Glenwood (Unit #1075), T or C (Unit #1036), Socorro (Unit #1035) and Quemado (Unit # 1073) to assess smoke impacts in New Mexico, and can be viewed at Please 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: If you visit the Gila National Forest this weekend, remember that fire danger is very high and Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect. For detailed information, visit

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