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Johnson Fire

Unit Information

Gila National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
3005 E. Camino del Bosque
Silver City, NM 88061

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Gila Forest fire adds nearly 20,000 acres over the weekend

Johnson Fire Wildfire
News – 6/14/2021

Gila Forest fire adds nearly 20,000 acres over the weekend

Leah Romero

Silver City Sun-News

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SILVER CITY - The largest blaze so far in the Gila National Forest this fire season grew by nearly 20,000 acres over the weekend to over 65,000 acres of Gila Wilderness land. 

The Johnson Fire was ignited by lightning and has been burning since May 20, 11 miles west of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Size estimations were updated after an infrared flight Sunday evening. As of Monday morning, the wildfire is burning an estimated 65,289 acres with 11% of the perimeter contained. 

Fire activity was reported from all sides Saturday, but overcast weather Sunday and intermittent showers slowed activity. Weather in the area is expected to be sunny Monday with highs ranging from 90 to 103 degrees, depending on the elevation. There is also a slight chance for rain. 

More:Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument temporarily closed beginning Saturday

According to the forest service, crews worked to mop up (removing burning material from the control line) hot spots near White Rock Canyon, burned out pockets of fuels in Raw Meat Canyon and completed a burnout operation around Mogollon Baldy Lookout. 

Monday, crews plan to improve control lines in White Rocks Canyon, mop up areas in Raw Meat Canyon and complete burn out operations via helicopter south of the lookout to protect the structure.  

A smaller fire called the Cross Fire is burning north of the main Johnson Fire at about 2 acres. Fire crews worked on a fire line and started mopping up areas. 

Air quality in the area over the weekend, especially Sunday, reached the hazardous level — the most extreme level on the Air Quality Index — where everyone is likely to be affected. Levels Monday are back in the lowest level and are projected to remain in the good to moderate ranges through Tuesday. 

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and numerous trails remains closed. 

Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, lromero@lcsun-news.com or @rromero_leah on Twitter.