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Firefighter who helped save campers during Whittier Fire reflect - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Firefighter who helped save campers during Whittier Fire reflects on State of the Union honor

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The U.S. Forest Service patrolman who saved dozens of kid campers during the Whittier Fire has returned from Washington, D.C. David Dahlberg was a guest of the President and First Lady at the State of the Union Tuesday night. 

President Donald Trump gave his outlook on the state of the union, but he also took time to thank many first responders from this year's disasters. 

Santa Maria resident Dave Dahlberg was among the president's guests and Trump gave Dahlberg a shoutout during his speech. 

Dahlberg rushed into the Circle V Ranch Camp in Santa Barbara County after it had been surrounded by the Whittier Fire.

"We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg," President Trump said. "David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped in a California summer camp threatened by those devastating wildfires."


Dave Dahlberg poses with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. (Photo courtesy Dave Dahlberg)

"I don't have words to describe it. I was blown away," Dahlberg said with a big smile on his face. 

"Dave deserves so much credit because he went through the fire," said Ray Lopez, Circle V Ranch Camp Director. "He doesn't talk about it much but he had to go through the smoke and falling tree branches and at one point he didn't even know if he was on the road anymore, but he was willing to sacrifice."

Dahlberg helped save more than 60 young campers from the Whittier Fire that destroyed the historic campgrounds. 

He said he was honored to be recognized on behalf of Santa Barbara County. He was even able to meet many elected officials. 

"The Vice President even took a selfie with me, my phone, his hand, so that was pretty amazing," Dahlberg told KSBY News. "I was ecstatic and I was on my best behavior."


Dave Dahlberg with Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence. (Photo courtesy Dave Dahlberg)

When Dave was asked what's harder, "walking through the halls of the White House and meeting the President of the United States or driving through the fire?" He answered that it was easier driving through smoke and flames.

Circle V Ranch is cleaning up and rebuilding with a goal of reopening this year. 

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