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Coroner: deadly limo fire spread too quickly for escape

May 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM   |   Comments

SAN FRANCISCO, May 6 (UPI) -- Five women killed in a limousine fire tried to flee but the fast-spreading fire made escape "almost impossible," the San Mateo County, Calif., coroner said.

Medical Examiner Robert Foucrault said the women's bodies were found near the partition at the front of the limousine, where they tried to climb through the opening to escape, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

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

The limo caught fire while crossing the San Mateo-Hayward bridge in Foster City in the San Francisco Bay-area Saturday, killing five women and injuring four as they were going to a bridal party, police said.

Among the fatalities was Neriza Fojas, 31, of Fresno, the bride, the Chronicle reported Sunday. Fojas had married recently and was to have returned to her native Philippines for a second ceremony in June, the newspaper said.

Foucrault said Orville Brown, a driver with LimoStop Inc., picked up the nine women in Oakland and was to drop them off about 40 miles away in Foster City for a bachelorette party.

Two of the surviving passengers were listed in critical condition and were being treated for smoke inhalation and burns, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The two other injured passengers were treated for moderate burns and smoke inhalation. Their conditions are unknown, the Times said.

Brown, 46, of San Jose was not injured.

Kultar Singh, owner of Limo Stop Inc., said he was "very, very saddened," but wouldn't discuss the incident.

The San Jose Mercury News said records from the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates limousines, indicated Limo Stop is licensed and insured. It was not immediately clear whether the company had been cited for safety problems.

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