California News

Limousine fire: 5 women killed on bridge over San Francisco Bay

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Five women were killed and four others were injured when their limousine burst into flames on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay.

Neriza Fojas, who recently wed and was planning to travel to her native Philippines to hold another ceremony before family, was one of the people killed. Fojas was a hospital nurse from Fresno. Her friends in the limousine were fellow nurses. It was originally reported that Fojas was not yet married.

"It's unbelievable. It's not even coworkers, they are two nice nurses, really good workers," co-worker Grace Kanu said of Fojas and friend Michelle Estrera, who also died in the fire.

The mother of one of the survivors told the San Francisco Chronicle that the women were heading to a bachelorette party or bridal shower. Rosita Guardiano's daughter, 42-year-old Mary Grace Guardiano of Alameda, was in intensive care, where she was being treated for smoke inhalation.

The limo was carrying the nine women when it caught on fire around 10 p.m. Saturday. Authorities say the five women who died were trapped inside the 1999 Lincoln Town Car. The four others managed to get out of the vehicle after it came to a stop on the bridge.

The driver of the limo, identified as 46-year-old Orville Brown of San Jose, was the only person who escaped unhurt.

Mary Guardiano and the other three who escaped the fire, Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose; Nelia Arrellano, 36, of Oakland; and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro, were taken to area hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns, the CHP said. Desguia and Loyola were listed in critical condition.

Investigators have not determined what sparked the fire, but the CHP says the limo became engulfed in flames after smoke started coming out of the rear of the limo.

The company that operated the limo was identified as Limo Stop. The company issued a statement saying it "will do everything possible to investigate and assist authorities in determining the cause of this fire in order to bring forth answers and provide closure to the victims and their families."

The owner of the limo had all permits, insurance and license up to date, according to the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees limousines.

The blaze occurred on the westbound lanes of the bridge, which is part of state Highway 92, and runs several miles across San Francisco Bay, connecting San Mateo and Alameda counties, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

The westbound lanes of the bridge were closed as officers investigated the cause of the deadly fire, causing a massive backup late Saturday and into early Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fire, san francisco, california news, john hartung
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