Location: Johnson Canyon, west of McKenna Park. 11 miles west of Gila Cliff Dwellings, Wilderness Ranger District, Catron County, NM
Start Date: May 20, 2021 Size: ~ 54,203 Cause: Lightning
Vegetation:Ponderosa Pine and Grass Total Personnel: 132 Containment: 11%
RESOURCES: Two Interagency Hotshot Crews, one twelve-person hand crew, one ten-person Wildfire Module, three Type 3 Engines, two Type 6 Engines, three Water Tenders, and two Type 3 Helicopters which includes short haul medical equipment.
SUMMARY: The Johnson Fire is approximately 54,203 acres and is burning in the Gila Wilderness on the Gila National Forest. The acreage is the most accurate information taken from an infrared (IR) flight on Friday 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. With yesterday’s hot and dry conditions, the fire burned steadily in Sycamore and Bush Canyons and in Corral Canyon in the northwest corner of the fire. As the fire progressed westward, fire managers decided to remove Mogollon Baldy Lookout personnel as a precautionary measure. Additionally, a helitac crew completed structure protection around the lookout cabin and tower. Firefighters completed burn out operations on Granny Mountain Trail #160 from Miller Springs Cabin to the Good Fire scar. Today, crews will hold and secure fire control lines in White Rocks Canyon as the fire moves toward the West Fork of the Gila River. All other areas of the fire will be monitored by air resources.
INCIDENT OBJECTIVES: Provide for public and firefighter safety and allow fire to play its natural role on the landscape. Utilize Minimum Impact Suppression Techniques. Ensure information is accurate and timely regarding closures and planned fire operations. Values at risk are Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, White Creek Cabin, and sensitive aquatic species in the Gila Wilderness.
FIRE BEHAVIOR: Moderate fire activity, with creeping, backing, and scattered torching.
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: Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7493/ The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument remains CLOSED, and the closure shall remain in effect until rescinded. The Cliff Dwellings is closed while fire managers prepare for a burn-out operation for the Johnson Fire. Light Feather and Jordan Hot Springs, along with the Middle Fork Trailhead, are also included in this closure. 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.) As a reminder “The Celebration Site-Skates area,” Johnson Fire Camp is closed to camping.
WEATHER: Hot and dry weather to continue for the next two days. Today, sunny with patchy smoke early in the morning, 0% chance of precipitation. Minimum relative humidity 5 to 6% with maximum nighttime humidity recovery near 15%. Southwest winds 11 to16 mph.
AIR QUALITY: Mimbres, Silver City, Cliff, and Glenwood NM are expected to experience “Good” air quality today. The Gila Cliff Dwellings area will again see poor smoke dispersal in the morning and is expected to stay in the “Moderate” level 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 the Wilderness Ranger District-Mimbres (Unit #1073), 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 https://app.airsis.com/USFS/UnitMap.
Please see the New Mexico Department of Health site also known as 5-3-1, https://nmtracking.org/fire 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.