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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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Johnson Fire – Update June 16, 2021

Johnson Fire Wildfire
News – 6/16/2021

Johnson Fire – Update June 16, 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: Three Interagency Hotshot Crews, three ten-person Handcrew, three ten-person Wildfire Modules, five Type 6 Engines, four Water Tenders, and two Type 3 Helicopters which includes short haul medical equipment, 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 taking over the fire while the Gila Las Cruces Team takes required days off.  Yesterday, the fire moved toward the Good Fire burn scar, crews burned out small pockets of fuel to secure the fire’s edge. Helicopter bucket drops were utilized to hold the fire as it advanced into Turkey Creek.  On the northern perimeter crews continued to hold and monitor the fire’s edge along the Cub Fire burn scar. Mop up operations continued in White Rocks Canyon to secure control lines. The Cross Fire showed no smoke and was monitored by air.  Structure protection assessments in the Willow Creek area continued.  Today, crews in the Willow Creek area will scout out opportunities to prepare control lines for future operations as the fire moves northward. Monitor and patrol activities contiue along control lines in the White Creek Cabin and White Rocks Canyon areas.  The southern and western perimeters of the fire will be monitored by aerial reconnaissance.

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: Active flanking with 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: 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 are closed while fire managers assess fire conditions affecting visitor safety. 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: Mostly sunny then becoming partly cloudy.  Slight chance of rain showers and dry thundershowers in the afternoon.  Chance of precipitation 10%, minimum humidity 14 to 16%, overnight humidity recovery 35-40%.  Winds 7 to 10 mph early morning, gusty and erratic winds expected near thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Air Quality:  Silver City and Gila Cliff Dwellings is expected to experience “Good” air quality today. Cliff and  Glenwood, NM will see poor 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 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.