Wilderness Area Could Create New Firefighting Problems - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wilderness Area Could Create New Firefighting Problems

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DAYTON, Wash.- The Columbia County Complex fire near Dayton is spreading into the Umatilla National Forest, creating increased problems for firefighters.

The fire is growing close to the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness area, which could create problems in the effort to slow the fire's growth.

Rules for fighting a fire in a wilderness area are much stricter than for other areas.

Special permission is needed to use motorized equipment in a congressionally designated wilderness.

"We're limited to non-mechanized equipment. No chainsaws, no dozers, no trucks. Aerial attack is extremely limited, unless there's some waiver by the administrator of the forest," said U.S. Forest Service representative Bruce Prud'homme.

The reason for these limitations is that fire is considered a natural part of the ecosystem, therefore they'd like to just let fires in wilderness areas burn naturally to conserve the natural nature of the area.

As for getting a permit, that's something officials say they'll address when it becomes an issue.