USFS firefighter invited to State of the Union Address

Dave Dahlberg helped rescue 62 children and staff members whose camp had been encircled by the Whittier Fire northwest of Santa Barbara, California.

Dave Dahlberg rescue children fire
David Dahlberg, a Fire Prevention Technician on the Los Padres National Forest, is presented an award by Ray Sweet, left, board president for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles, and Circle V Ranch Camp director Ray Lopez. October 15, 2016. Photo courtesy of USFS.

A U.S. Forest Service employee is being  honored by attending the President’s State of the Union Address scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Dave Dahlberg, a Fire Prevention Technician on the Los Padres National Forest working out of Pine Canyon Fire Station, helped rescue 62 children and staff members at the Circle V Ranch Camp during the Whittier Fire July 8, 2017.

This is a big deal. Congratulations to FPT Dahlberg!

Mr. Dahlberg will be one of 12 special guests of President Trump and will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump.

David Dahlberg meets Sonny Perdue.
David Dahlberg meets Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Dept. of Ag. photo.

As the flames bore down on the camp there was fire on both sides of the access road but he was able to drive through the smoke and heat to the camp where he corralled the scores of children and staff members, keeping them safe. Later a convoy of vehicles took the personnel out of the area.

Mr. Dahlberg provides more details in the video below: | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Here is an excerpt from an article at KSBY:

…At the end of the road, 58 campers ages seven through 16 and 24 adult staff members were trapped in the camp.

The deputies turned around but U.S. Forest Service Patrolman Dave Dahlberg, who was initially behind them, was able to pass and make it through.

“I was able to make access into the camp through all the smoke and flames and all the debris on the road. It was tough at some points,” said Dahlberg, who was familiar with Circle V Ranch from prior training based on similar circumstances.

Dahlberg and the campers sheltered in place at the dining hall. Flames were about 600 feet away.

“I assured them that we were in a safe place and that we would all get out safely. It seemed like minutes but it probably was closer to two hours when I first saw county Dozer 1,” he continued.

Dozer operator Mark Linane started cutting fire line around the camp. Overhead, helicopters and airtankers made drops where the flames were seen moving toward the camp.

Dahlberg doused the dining hall with water as flames approached. Another hour went by before search and rescue vehicles arrived at the camp.

The Whittier Fire burned over 18,000 acres northwest of Santa Barbara. The Circle V Ranch Camp is south of Cachuma Lake and south of San Marcos Pass Road. On the map below it is north of the “W” in “Whittier Fire”.

Whittier Fire map
Map of the Whittier Fire, current at 9:30 p.m. PDT July 16, 2017. Click to enlarge.
Whittier Fire
Whittier Fire. Undated photo posted to Inciweb July 16, 2017.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “USFS firefighter invited to State of the Union Address”

  1. Wait, what? Mark Linane a dozer operator now? The Mark Linane of So Cal Hotshot crew fame? I’m just a retired Cal Fire guy, but I recall hearing about a Shot Supe named Mark Linane back in the 90’s when I was taking Doug Campbell’s class. USFS guys in class seemed to revere the guy. Is this the same Mark Linane? I think there’s a story lurking in this one liner about a dozer operator named Mark Linane. I’d like to hear it. Cheers

  2. Bill, Thanks for posting this great story! A positive outcome for all and minimal loss to the Camp. Points again to the value of training and experience with wildfire. Congratulations to Dave Dahlberg, the Las Padres NF and the USFS.


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