Witnesses at a sparsely attended federal hearing on fire policy said fire should be allowed to play its natural role on federal lands, up to a point.

The nation slowly is progressing from considering all fire evil to an "enlightened" view that fire is OK, Joan Newman of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund testified Monday.But retired forester Red Giffen of Conifer told three federal officials hearing testimony at Lakewood that there was "too much fire" last summer at Yellowstone National Park. He urged federal officials not to rule out the use of bulldozers in fire suppression.

The hearing is one of 10 being conducted nationwide on proposed revisions in federal fire policy. The review began after 1 million acres burned in and around Yellowstone last summer.

The proposed policy calls for natural fires to burn until they reach limits based on drought conditions or the number and size of fires.

The limits should not be so stringent that they violate the Wilderness Act, Newman said.

"Legal issues exist," she said. "Where policy interferes with a fire-dependent ecology," the Forest Service "is acting contrary to the Wilderness Action . . . a violation of law."