A BRIDE and four of her friends died when a limousine burst into flames as it took her party for a night out on the town to celebrate her marriage.
Five of nine passengers in the luxury car were killed when they were trapped inside the fireball. Four other escaped with burns and the effects of inhaling smoke.
The driver, who was not hurt, told investigators in San Francisco he was driving the women on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on Saturday night when one of them complained of smoke inside the passenger compartment.
He said he pulled over, got out, and saw the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car fully engulfed in flames.
Witnesses saw flames shooting from the back of the limo.
After firefighters rushed to the scene and put out the fire, authorities found five badly burned bodies huddled near the partition that separates the driver from the passengers.
"My guess would be they were trying to get away from the fire and use that window opening as an escape route," San Mateo county coroner Robert Foucrault said.
He said other motorists helped three women get out of the rear right door, and a fourth woman managed to squeeze through the partition.
The San Mateo Fire Department was investigating the cause of the fire, while the coroner's office was working with the California Highway Patrol to determine whether a crime occurred.
"We don't believe there is," Mr Foucrault said.
Relatives said that one of the dead was Neriza Fojas (31) a nurse from Fresno who recently wed and was planning to repeat her marriage vows in the Philippines next month.
The dead women will be identified from the dental records, police said.