Investigators on Monday were seeking the cause of a fire that engulfed a stretch limousine, killing five passengers and injuring four other people, as the vehicle was traveling across a bridge in the San Francisco area over the weekend.
All the victims were nurses, out celebrating with bride Neriza Fojas, who was among those killed, according to local media.
The 1999 Lincoln Town Car limo was carrying the nine women late Saturday night, driving westbound on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, when the driver saw smoke coming from the back of the vehicle, police said.
The driver pulled over on the bridge, but the limousine suddenly burst into flames, trapping five passengers inside, California Highway Patrol said.
Unable to get out the rear doors of the vehicle, the women were trying to squeeze through the window to the driver's seat, local media reported.
The five passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.
"This is one of the most horrific things I've seen in 21 years with this office," San Mateo County's medical examiner, Robert Foucrault, said in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. "Looking at it, they were on top of each other and doing what they could to get out."
The four injured women were treated for smoke inhalation and burns, police said. The driver was not injured, police said.
All of the women in the limo were in their 30s or 40s, police said.
The California Highway Patrol said it was investigating the cause of the fire.
The limo did not appear to have been involved in a collision, the patrol said.
The 31-year-old bride was a registered nurse who worked in Fresno, Calif., the newspaper said. She was newly married in the United States but was planning to travel to her native Philippines next month for another wedding ceremony, her family told the newspaper.
She and her friends in the limo were heading to a bridal celebration at a hotel in Foster City, Calif., where her husband was waiting for them to arrive, the newspaper said.