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UPDATED: 5 Killed in Limo Fire on California Bridge

5 Others Escape Blazing Car

Update, 10:15 pm Eastern: Additional information on the early stage of the fire has been posted by the Los Angeles Times.  Scroll down for the update.

NINE WOMEN HAVING A BRIDAL-SHOWER party were riding in a rented limousine Saturday night near San Francisco when a fire started in the rear of the vehicle.  The blaze grew quickly enough to entrap five of them, including the bride-to-be, who perished in the fire, most of them being severely burned.

NBC / David Soloman

The other four passengers escaped with minor burns and smoke inhalation, but in otherwise good condition.  The driver of the limo also escaped without injury.

KPIX-TV5 also reported:

The limo was going west on the (San Mateo – Hayward) bridge at about 10 p.m. when smoke began pouring out of the rear passenger area, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday. The driver managed to stop the car and he and those in the front scrambled to safety. But the fire evidently spread so quickly that the rest of the occupants were unable to get out in time.

Bay Area News Group photo

Emergency crews extinguished the blaze before it engulfed the entire vehicle, but the rear one-third of the white, 1999 Lincoln Town Car was left a charred ruin.

The dead women were all in their 30s and 40s, the CHP said. The women were apparently going from Alameda to Foster City. The survivors, also in their 30s and 40s, were taken to Stanford Medical Center and to Valley Medical Center in San Jose for treatment of smoke inhalation and burn injuries.

A California Highway Patrol spokesman says that the early indication is that the fire started in the trunk of the stretch limo, but the investigation is just getting underway.  The medical examiner states that it will take at least two days to identify the victims because of the extensive burns they received.

KGO-TV posted some raw video from the scene:


The vehicle was traveling in the slow lane on the bridge when smoke began coming from the rear of the car.  The CHP says that the car was not involved in any kind of collision.  The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The San Francisco Chronicle has more DETAILS HERE.

Update, 10:15 pm Eastern:
The Los Angeles Times has obtained further information on the early stages of the fire provided through an interview with the medical examiner:

Orville Brown, a driver with LimoStop Inc., picked up the nine women in Oakland on Saturday evening, Corner Robert Foucrault said. He was hired to drop them off about 40 miles away at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City for a bachelorette party.

The women, including the bride-to-be, were all riding in the passenger section of the limo when they noticed smoke coming from the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car, Foucrault said. They alerted Brown, who pulled over on the side of the San Mateo-Hayward bridge.

When Brown got out of the limo to inspect the vehicle, he noticed the rear was engulfed in flames, Foucrault said. Three of the passengers managed to escape through the rear passenger door. Another passenger squeezed through the partition that separated the driver from the passengers, he said. The bodies of the other five woman were found near the partition, he said.

"It was almost impossible for them to get out as the fire was moving so fast," Foucrault said.

Two of the surviving passengers — Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro were taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. They are being treated for smoke inhalation and burns. They are listed in critical condition.

Two other passengers — Nelia Arellano, 36, of Oakland and Mary Guardiano, 42, of Alameda — were taken to Stanford Medical Center. They were treated for moderate burns and smoke inhalation, authorities said. Their conditions are unknown.

Brown, 46, of San Jose, was not injured in the accident. Foucrault said he was "pretty distraught."

Investigators are saying that is could take several days to determine what started the fire.

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