Staff Report

When David Dahlberg, a U.S. Forest Service fire prevention technician stationed in Santa Maria, braved flames and smoke to rescue campers and staff at Circle V Ranch Camp in July, he had no idea he would be honored six months later during President Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress.

“David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires,” Trump said during his address in January, as Dahlberg stood up in the balcony to receive applause.

St. Vincent de Paul’s Circle V Ranch Camp & Retreat Center at 2550 Highway 154 across from Cachuma Lake has been located on the 30 acres in Los Padres National Forest since 1990.

On July 8, the Whittier wildfire began nearby and burned through the camp, but all 88 campers and 36 staff members in residence at that time were evacuated safely by heroic first responders, staff and volunteers.

“We are thrilled that Dave’s heroic efforts are being recognized during the 2018 State of the Union address …  We continue to extend our gratitude to Dave and all our guardian angels that helped rescue the remaining 58 children campers and 24 adult staff, during the wildfire that day,” said David Fields, Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Circle V Ranch Camp incurred major damages from the Whittier Fire, including the destruction of its water system. Camp officials are in the process of cleaning up and rebuilding, and they welcome donations at