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10 elderly women escape limousine fire in Northern California

Monday, June 10, 2013
Ten elderly women escaped unharmed from a burning limousine in Northern California Sunday, June 9, 2013.

Ten elderly women escaped unharmed from a burning limousine in Northern California Sunday, June 9, 2013. (KABC Photo)

Ten elderly women escaped unharmed from a burning limousine in Northern California Sunday.

The women, many of whom are in their 90s, were heading to Sonoma from Walnut Creek to celebrate a friend's 96th birthday. One of the passengers, Mary Chapman, told the driver and the other women to exit the limo when she smelled and saw smoke. The limo burst into flames seconds later.

"When I looked out, there were red flames all over the place and black smoke," Chapman said. "And now you can see the result."

Chapman and two other women who were more able-bodied helped the other women escape. The other passengers were dependent on walkers and canes, according to Chapman.

Fire crews were dispatched and quickly extinguished the flames.

The limo has been inspected and maintained, Claudius Oliveira, owner of Town Car SF, which operates the limo.

He said the limo's electrical system likely contributed to the fire and said a manufacturer's defect was to blame.

"I'm speechless because this is a new car. ... I keep great records of the cars," Oliveira said.

The fire comes a little more than a month after five nurses were killed while trapped inside a burning limousine on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. That incident is under CHP investigation.

The Associated Press and KGO-TV contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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