Neriza Fojas, Bride, Killed In Limo Fire: Fire Believed To Have Started In Trunk; Police Investigating

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 6, 2013 12:51 PM EDT

Bride Fire
A passerby captured this image of the limo fire that claimed the lives of bride-to-be Neriza Fojas and four others. (Photo: Twitter: debbz_84)

A bride-to-be and four other women were killed in a limo fire on Saturday night in San Francisco as they headed out for a bachelorette party.

A total of nine women were in the back of the white stretch limousine, which began filling with smoke as the vehicle crossed the San Mateo Bridge. When one of the women in back knocked on the partition to complain of smelling smoke, the driver, Orville Brown, initially misunderstood what she was saying.

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"They had the music up in the back, and I figured she was asking, 'Can I smoke?'" Brown said in an interview. "I said, 'The owner doesn't allow smoking in the car, and we only have four minutes to the destination.'"

A few seconds later, there was knocking on the partition again -- but this time, the knocking was accompanied by the party's frantic screaming about smoke filling the limo. Brown rolled down the partition and started to pull over, but it was too late. With the back of the vehicle in flames, Brown was only able to help four of the nine women out through the partition. Those four are being treated for smoke inhalation, while the other five women died in the flames, including bride-to-be Neriza Fojas.

"The flames were gigantic," said Roxanne Guzman, who was driving past the engulfed limo on Saturday night. "The flames were so big and radiating so much heat that I could feel the heat off of my face, and I was in my car the entire time."

Investigators still have no idea what caused the fire. The blaze appears to have started in the trunk, based on bystander videos.

"Looking at the photos, it appears it started in the trunk," California Highway Patrol spokesman Ron Simmons said. "But at this time, we don't know officially if the fire started inside the vehicle or on the exterior."

It could take days before the origin of the fire is known, said California Highway Patrol Officer James Evans. "This is not something that gets rushed through."

Limo Stop, the company which provided the limousine, issued a statement saying that 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."

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