SAN FRANCISCO – Ten women – some of them in their 90s – escaped unharmed from a limousine that began smoking and caught fire in Northern California just more than a month after five nurses were killed while trapped inside a burning limousine on a nearby bridge.
The women were celebrating one woman’s 90th birthday and were in the vehicle outside her home – where they had gathered shortly after 11 a.m. – when white smoke drifted out of the partition between the driver’s compartment and the passenger compartment, Mary Chapman, one of the passengers, said Monday.
The limousine was idling, but the doors were open. Chapman, 63, said she got out, and the other women – some of whom relied on walkers and canes – followed with help from one another and a caregiver.
“I think that’s what saved us,” she said. “The doors were not closed, so they weren’t locked.”
Flames erupted about 15 minutes later, she said, although the women were out by then and had moved into the home. Television news footage showed the limo’s passenger and driver’s compartments completely gutted.
Capt. Robert Marshall of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said it appears it was an electrical fire.
The limo fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over San Francisco Bay last month spread rapidly, engulfing the luxury car in just a few moments.