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Bride Among Five Dead In California Limo Fire

A bride was among five women who died when a limousine burst into flames as it carried her and eight of her friends to her wedding celebrations.

The car caught fire at around 10pm on Saturday on one of the busiest bridges across San Francisco Bay.

All nine of the women were nurses. Five were trapped but four others managed to get out after the vehicle came to a halt on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

Rosita Guardiano, whose daughter survived, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the bride was 31-year-old Neriza Fojas.

It was originally reported that she was still to be married.

The driver of the white stretch limo said at first he misunderstood what one of the women was saying when she complained about smelling smoke.

Orville Brown, 46, who escaped without injury, told the San Francisco Chronicle that with the music up he thought she was asking if she could smoke.

Seconds later, he said the women knocked again, this time screaming, "Smoke, smoke!" and "Pull over!"

Investigators have not established the cause of the fire.

A photo taken by a witness and broadcast on KTVU-TV showed flames shooting from the back of the limo.

Aerial video shot after the incident showed about a third of the back half of the limousine had been scorched.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle the women could not get out of the rear doors, so they tried to squeeze through the small window into the driver's compartment.

"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. 

"Looking at it, they were on top of each other and doing what they could to get out."

Investigators are appealing for witnesses to the incident.

All five women were pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs Guardiano said her daughter, 42-year-old Mary Grace Guardiano from Alameda, was being treated for smoke inhalation.

The three other women who escaped, Jasmine Desguia, 34, from San Jose; Nelia Arrellano, 36, from Oakland; and Amalia Loyola, 48, from San Leandro, were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and burns.