Limo Fire That Killed Bride And Four Friends Given Mechanical Cause

A limousine fire that killed five women celebrating a wedding in San Mateo, California last month is being blamed on ruptured air springs inside the Lincoln Town Car, local media outlets are reporting.

In early May, bride Neriza Fojas and four of her friends were killed when their Town Car limousine caught fire on a bridge. Four other women managed to escape the burning car with minor burns and smoke inhalation injuries.

San Francisco news station ABC 7 KGO reports, citing "multiple sources," that air springs in the rear of the car ruptured somehow, causing the back of the car to droop low and drag along the ground. At some point a spark may have hit the gas tank, explained Yusef Mustafa owns Royal Auto Repair, a garage that services limousines. Here's what he told them:

"These are the air springs; so in other words, they carry the weight of the car," Mustafa said. "So when one of them has a rupture on it, the whole car drops down, basically on the tires. So when the car drops down, these parts of the drive line usually it will be hitting on this part right here and that will create a friction and it winds up a lot of heat."

"The car would be jumping like a horse," Mustafa continued. "With a load in it, it would be bottoming at the ground, which is I think what happened. It bottomed on the ground and unfortunately, the gas tank is right there. The car with the weight, it bounced down too hard, it ended up hitting the gas tank which is right at this spot here. It might have hit the gas tank and then you see, when it hits the ground it will create a spark. There's a spark here and there's fuel going down. So it catches fire."

The official investigation into the fire, being conducted by the California Highway Patrol, is not yet complete. A CHP spokesman told Reuters they expect to release it in the next few weeks. At the same time, the local District Attorney is working to determine negligence was involved in the limousine's maintenance.

Photo credit AP