HILLS BURNED AS PRECAUTION.
Firefighters are purposely igniting about 5,000 acres in the hills of Saugus for the sake of burning off high growth areas and to practice with their equipment, officials said Thursday.
Some 70 firefighters throughout Los Angeles County are tackling the blaze, which has left a thick layer of smoke across San Francisquito Canyon.
The control fire is meant to burn off areas at risk of burning out of control and to train firefighters and three inmate ground crews, said Henry Rodriguez, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The blaze, which charred about 300 acres by Thursday, was started Tuesday near McBean Parkway and Summerhill Lane. It likely will continue to burn through early next week, said Capt. Steve Valenzuela.
``Certain areas need to burn out vegetation because of the growth,'' Rodriguez said.
Six fire engines, a dozen ground teams and a water-dropping helicopter are assigned to the blaze.
Firefighters are battling the fire from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Rodriguez said.
Photo: A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter drops water T hursday on a controlled burn in Saugus. The fire was set by the department to burn off areas at risk of burning out of control and to train firefighters and inmate ground crews.
Hans Gutknecht/Daily News