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Joy Turns To Tragedy As Bride And 4 Others Die In Limo Fire

This is one of the weekend's saddest stories.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused a horrific fire inside a limousine late Saturday night on the San Mateo Bridge over San Francisco Bay. A new bride and four of her friends — all women — died as they tried to escape. Four other women, who had also been celebrating Neriza Fojas' recent marriage, managed to escape. So did the driver.

As The San Francisco Chronicle says:

"They were heading out on what was supposed to be one of the happiest nights of Neriza Fojas' life, a party to cap off the bridal shower she'd been celebrating with eight of her nurse friends. Then the women's stretch limousine headed west over the San Mateo Bridge — and horror erupted.

"Just after 10 p.m. Saturday, flames burst out in the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car. The driver pulled over, and he and four of the women managed to escape. But the other five passengers, including Fojas, remained trapped."

The fire grew quickly, and it appears the women didn't think they could get out through the rear door. Instead, they tried to escape through the partition between the passenger area and the driver's seat. Four were able to make it, the driver says. The five victims were "all huddled near the partition, apparently unable to squeeze through," according to The Associated Press.

The CBS Local website in San Francisco has video reports, which include some cellphone footage of the fire. Warning: It is intense.

The Oakland Tribune says that Fojas, who was from Fresno, "had already married her husband, but the couple planned a ceremony and reception for family on June 19" in the Philippines. She was 31.

When the blaze broke out, the women had just finished a night on the town and were heading to a hotel where Fojas' husband was waiting, the AP adds.

Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. No News Yet On Cause:

The investigation continues and they cannot comment yet on the cause of the fire, both Foster City (Calif.) Fire Chief Michael Keefe and Fire Marshal John Mapes told reporters moments ago.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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