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Limo fire moved so quickly, some could not escape, coroner says

May 05, 2013|By Angel Jennings
  • San Mateo County firefighters and California Highway Patrol personnel investigate the scene of a deadly limousine fire on the westbound side of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in Foster City, Calif.
San Mateo County firefighters and California Highway Patrol personnel… (Jane Tyska / Associated…)

A fire that raced through a limousine Saturday night on the San Mateo Bridge -- leaving five women, including a bride-to-be, dead and four others hurt -- moved very fast through the car, officials said Sunday.

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

The Foster City Fire Department's arson division is investigating. Authorities said it could take days to determine what started the blaze.

PHOTOS: Fatal limo fire

At this point officials are not speculating on a possible cause.

Orville Brown, a driver with LimoStop Inc., picked up the nine women in Oakland on Saturday evening, he added. 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 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 women managed to escape through the rear passenger door. Another squeezed through the partition that separated the driver from the passengers, he said. The bodies of the other five women were found near the partition, he 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 were being treated for smoke inhalation and burns and were 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 incident. Foucrault said he was "pretty distraught." 

Friends told the San Jose Mercury News that some of the women met through nursing jobs.

"I'm shocked. It's devastating, a freak accident," Angela Huang told the paper.

The names of the women who died have not been released pending proper identification. 


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