Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : County Firefighters Practice for the Long, Hot Summer : Prevention: A 1,200-acre blaze in Tapia Canyon is part of a series of controlled burns intended to clear brush and train personnel.


Firefighters sharpened their skills and reduced the odds of wildfires in northern Los Angeles County this week.

An estimated 1,000 firefighters participated in the burning of 1,200 acres in Tapia Canyon, near the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho prison. The work is one in a series of fires the Los Angeles County Fire Department plans to set during the next three months.

Rains earlier in the year resulted in denser grass and other plant growth in the area, providing more burnable material. Starting the fire in the canyon is a way to get rid of as much dry grass as possible and train personnel to fight a runaway blaze.


Inspector Jack Pritchard said sites of major blazes in the county during the past 70 years, known as fire corridors, were chosen for the

“They’ll be burning throughout the county through August, weather permitting,” said Pritchard. “If a fire does go through (a pre-burned area), it will slow down a lot.”

Fire Capt. Steve Valenzuela said the recent controlled burn was the world’s largest wild land fire exercise. When completed, the exercise will have encompassed about 2,500 acres and involved nearly 2,000 firefighters.

One worker, an unidentified inmate volunteer, was treated at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Thursday morning after he clipped his left leg with the chain saw he was using to clear brush. Pritchard said the protective chaps the man was wearing absorbed most of impact and that it was the only injury that occurred during the drill.

Crews practiced battling the front line of a fire while commanders reviewed ways to coordinate the many firefighters involved.

Smoke from the exercise has been visible in Santa Clarita since the Tapia Canyon burning began, prompting some residents to call local fire stations.