Some Camp Williams residents unfazed by fire raging above Azusa
Residents who refused to evacuate from their homes at Camp Williams watched helicopters make repeated water drops Monday afternoon as flames from a huge wildfire raged across the Angeles National Forest.
The Williams fire, which had scorched about 4,000 acres above Azusa, prompted authorities to shut down the San Gabriel Canyon to Labor Day visitors and order evacuations from campgrounds, picnic areas and the mobile home park at Camp Williams.
But the fire didn't faze residents like Daniel Burress, 68, who has never evacuated despite repeated brush fires that have burned in the area during his 30 years living at the Camp Williams Trailer Park.
"I'm a Vietnam vet," Burress said, taking long drags from a cigarette. "So this doesn't scare me at all."
Of the 75 people who live at the camp, about 30 chose to stay when authorities ordered the evacuations after the blaze broke out Sunday afternoon. Many are veterans of previous fires, such as Susan King-Morgan, 51, who said the Williams fire was nothing she hadn't seen before.
The phone lines went out the first day of the fire, but there was still electricity Monday morning. Residents have gas generators ready just in case.
Burress, known to camp residents as "Grandpa," emerged from his trailer with several family photos, including one of a fire a few years ago that raged only feet away from the camp.
“Now, that was a fire,” he said.
-- Stephen Ceasar at Camp Williams
Photo: Daniel Burress, 68, watches the Williams fire from his trailer in Camp Wiiliams in the Angeles National Forest on September 3, 2012. Burress has never evacuated from the camp in his 30 years of living at Camp Williams. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times