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ATF investigating mobile shooting range fire that injured LA County sheriff's deputies

Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives joined the investigation into a fire inside a mobile shooting range that left two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies with critical burns.

ATF agents could be seen Friday examining the burned wreckage of the trailer at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. Officials told the NBC4 I-Team that members of the ATF’s National Response Team were working to identify the cause of the fire that started Tuesday morning while the deputies were inside the trailer.

Sheriff Robert Luna said both deputies suffered critical injuries from burns.

The trailer was one of 15 the sheriff’s department uses to evaluate deputies’ shooting skills each quarter, and one of the deputies inside was shooting a handgun qualification program when the fire ignited.

Multiple law enforcement sources told the I-Team that either an automatic lock on the door, or the pressure or heat from the fire, delayed efforts by other deputies to rescue the pair trapped inside.

The sheriff’s department said it closed all of its remaining shooting trailers while the cause of the fire was under investigation.

“We want to know exactly what happened, why it happened. At the end of the day, we have two deputies that have significant injuries here,” Luna said this week.

“We do not want this to happen again,” he added.

Tuesday’s fire was the fourth in the last seven years involving LASD shooting range trailers. In 2016 and 2019, trailers were damaged by fire while contractors were using power tools inside during upgrades.

Also in 2019, a trailer caught fire, and the ammunition inside burned, after a deputy set off a “flash-bang” device inside. The department said the deputy was disciplined as a result.

A sheriff’s spokesperson said Friday both deputies injured this week remained in the hospital with critical injuries, but could not provide more detail.

Sheriff Luna said one of the injured deputies worked at the North County Correctional Facility and has been an employee for 17 years. The other injured deputy was assigned to court in Sylmar and is a 20-year employee.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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