Umatilla National Forest Closed - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Umatilla National Forest Closed

Posted: Updated:

DAYTON, Wash.- As the Columbia County Complex fire grows, the Umatilla National forest is now closed north of the Washington-Oregon border.

Hundreds of bow hunters and vacationers usually spend Labor Day weekend in the forest, but this year, they aren't being let in.

With thousands of acres of dry brush, the forest provides nearly unlimited fuel for the fire, and authorities said many areas of the forest are very inaccessible, often with only one road in and out of an area, and if the fire were to move quickly through there, people could get trapped.

"Public safety is the big reason. We're heading into this labor day weekend, we're heading into archery season. There's normally lots of people in the forest. We have the nation's number one fire on at the top of this forest," said Tom Knappenberger, a fire information officer with U.S. Forest Service. 

Allowing people into the forest also leaves the possibility of campers accidentally starting more fires.

Forest service officials said closing the forest is simply the best way to keep people safe.