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Incident Name:  grass fire in San Luis Obispo Ranger Unit (SLU), CA
Date: 8/18/1978, 1700-1800 hours
Personnel: 3 lives lost
Age: 
Agency/Organization:  Cessna O-2 Airco 53, Air Attack was one of the Hemet Valley Flying Service maintained aircraft; Agency: CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: pilot, aerial firefighters

Summary:
Joe Holstine, 51, Contract pilot
Paul Belveal, 39, CDF Air Attack Officer
teenage passenger

Airco 53, a Cessna O-2 Pilot Joe Holstine, Air Attack Officer Paul Belveal and a teenage passenger were working a grass fire out in the Cariso Plains, in the east part of SLU when it crashed. Both aerial firefighters  and their teenage passenger died.

 

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Cariso Plains, in the east part of SLU

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Report: xxx (pdf); if you have this report, please share it.
  • California Death Index 1940-1997, from familysearch.org: Joe Holstine | Paul Lee Belveal

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

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Media Articles and Reports

  • This case was taken to court by the Hemet Valley Flying Service to get Public Safety Officer Benefits for airtanker and lead plane pilots.
    The Public Safety Officers Benefits Act, (42 USC 3796, Public Law 94-430) became law on September 29, 1976. The legislation provided for a $50,000 death benefit for fire fighters (paid and volunteer) and law enforcement officers that died in the line-of-duty (emergency or non-emergency) from a traumatic injury. It has changed since then to include other public servants and a larger lump-sum payout commensurate with inflation. Summary of the PSOB law

    Although they initially won benefits, the case was overturned on government appeal.

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Memorialized on the CDF Wall in Sacramento, 1978: Joe Holstine | Paul Belveal (83 K pdf)
    Hold down "Control and F" simultaneously and "find" Belveal. Holstine's name follows Belveal.

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Contributors to this article: Brush Slasher, RetFSFireCop, Tom Janney, Dennis Cullen

 

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