SANTA MARIA, Calif. - One of State of the Union guests of the President and the First Lady is a resident of Santa Barbara County.
David Dahlberg is a fire prevention technician with the U.S. Forest Service. In July, he helped save 62 children and staff members from Circle V Camp during the Whittier Fire.
Dahlberg has worked alongside Battalion Chief Chip Laugharn at the Los Padres Forest Service for over a decade.
Laugharn says he was surprised when he found out Dahlberg would be recognized during the State of the Union address. "It was a shocker story for all of us but what he did in the situation he was in does make sense," he explained.
At the Los Padres National Forest Service Office in Santa Maria, they strategically place firefighters and other crew members across their district that spans two counties. On the day Dahlberg rescued over 60 children from the Circle V Ranch, he was sent down to the Whittier Fire to provide additional support.
After several attempts by law enforcement to get to the children, Dahlberg was the first to make it through the flames.
"He did make access finally to the camp [and] was able to sit with the kids and get them all corralled," said Incident Commander, Mark Von Tillow.
"We've been to that location before so that also helps. There's a comfort level of knowing where to go down that road I mean all those windy roads lead some place and sometimes they might not be that safe of a spot," Laugharn explained.
Almost six months later, Dahlberg still believes it was his training with the forest service that helped him save dozens of lives.
"I still don't know how I got all the way out there but I do believe it was all because of my training," he said in a Twitter video with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
"People don't understand that we are in the game of wild land fire and that we're right there side by side by our counterparts so maybe that opens up peoples eyes and say hey those people do that job as well," said Laugharn.