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5 women killed in limousine fire on Bay Area bridge

A limousine in Calif. carrying nine women to a bridal shower suddenly caught fire on Saturday while driving on a bridge over the San Francisco Bay, killing five of the women including the bride-to-be. NBC's Tamron Hall reports.

Five women, including a new bride, were killed late Saturday when fire engulfed a stretch limousine carrying them to a party on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge over the San Francisco Bay, police said.

Four other occupants escaped with injuries including burns or smoke inhalation, California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel said. The driver escaped unharmed.

Witnesses at the scene told NBCBayArea.com people were trapped inside the burning limo, which was a white Lincoln Town Car traveling from Alameda to Foster City.

Montiel said the women, all in their 30s and 40s, were "probably killed by the fire,” but the cause of death was not immediately clear.

Among those who perished was 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, for whom the bridal shower was being thrown, the San Fransico Chronicle reported. Fojas was recently married in the United States but was planning to travel to her native Philippines to hold a ceremony in front of family next month.

Authorities say the limo picked the women up in Oakland and was heading to the Crowne Plaza Hotel when the vehicle burst into flames.

The CHP said the fire was first reported around 10 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) in the third lane of westbound state Highway 92.

The westbound lanes of the bridge, which connects San Mateo and Alameda counties, about 20 miles southeast of San Francisco, were closed for several hours Saturday night.

Investigators do not believe the fire was a result of a collision and will be looking into previous inspections to see if the limo had any prior issues.

Witnesses told NBCBayArea.com the limo was not involved in an accident prior to catching on fire. A viewer, David Solomon, sent in a picture that he said of was of the blazing vehicle.

When asked whether an "explosion" happened, Montiel said he couldn't confirm that.  He did say the "vehicle was partially engulfed."

Limo Stop, the owner of the limo, said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened by the tragedy last night involving the young women, five of whom lost their lives in the limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge."

NBC News' Justin Kirschner contributed to this report.

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