CASTAIC – Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies suffered critical injuries on Tuesday, Oct. 10, when a fire erupted inside a 53-foot trailer configured as a “mobile shooting range” at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.
Firefighters went to the facility in the 29300 block of The Old Road about 9:30 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
When they arrived, they determined that the two injured deputies had already been taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital by other deputies. Specific details about the nature and extent of their injuries were not released, with Sheriff Robert Luna saying only that their injuries “are consistent with a fire.” It was unclear if the deputies suffered any gunfire or shrapnel injuries from ammunition that may have been set off by the fire.
Dr. Louie-Marc Contreras, chief of the medical staff at Henry Mayo Hospital, told reporters the deputies were both “stable but in critical condition,” but he declined to provide any details about their injuries. The injured deputies were later transferred to Los Angeles General Medical Center for further treatment. Luna declined to identify the deputies, but said one is a roughly 21-year veteran assigned to the northern jail campus, while the other is a 17-year veteran assigned to the Sylmar courthouse. They are believed to have been the only two deputies inside the mobile firing range when the flames erupted for unknown reasons, Luna said. Earlier reports from the scene had suggested that as many as four people were injured.
County fire crews worked throughout the morning to douse the stubborn fire within the trailer, with the unexploded ammunition hampering the effort. The fire was eventually declared a knockdown at 1:20 p.m., according to the county fire department. The fire was contained to the single mobile trailer. A second trailer that had been parked right next to the one that burned was pulled away from the area. The Pitchess Detention Center was placed on lockdown during the firefight, but Luna said there was no threat to any of the inmates.
Luna noted, however, that the department suspended the use of all mobile shooting-range trailers across the county until investigators can determine what occurred to spark the fire. He said he could not confirm initial reports that there was some type of explosion in the trailer, but added the investigation had yet to really begin since the trailer was still too dangerous to enter when the fire was burning.
“We want to know obviously — number one, we don’t want this to happen again, so we need to know why it happened and get to the bottom of it so we can prevent it from happening again,” Luna said. “… We haven’t received that (reports of an explosion), but honestly we do not know at this time everything that happened. Our arson investigators will be investigating everything A-to-Z and we’ll figure it out.”
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes the Castaic area, issued a statement offering support to the injured deputies and their families.
“I send my deepest thanks to the swift and courageous first responders who rushed to the scene,” Barger said. “Their unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of our community is invaluable and should never be taken for granted.”