Johnson Fire Update for June 21, 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: ~85,590 acres                                      Cause: Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass            Total Personnel: 153                                    Containment: 9%

Resources:  1 Interagency Hotshot crews, 1 handcrew module, 1 Type 2 Initial Attack crew, 8 Type 6 Engines, 3 Water Tenders, and 2 Type 3 Helicopters.

Summary:  Crews remain actively engaged on the northwest side improving lines and conducting structure assessments in the Willow Creek area. The northern side of the fire is being monitored by horseback. Crews will mop-up small heat signatures within the northeast corner of the fire. The southeast flank along Hell and Water Canyons remains active as it approaches the Gila River. The southern flank of the fire is being monitored 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: Hot conditions with thunderstorms are expected this afternoon. Sudden and erratic strong wind gusts could develop near storms. Temperatures today should be somewhat cooler than yesterday, with hotter temperatures returning Wednesday.

Air Quality:  The Highway 180 corridor and Silver City will see moderate smoke this morning from fires burning in Arizona and New Mexico. 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, remember that fire danger is very high and Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect. For detailed information, visit

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