Limo alterations can create weaknesses - 5/7/13
(05-07) 08:11 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Investigators are likely to find that a fuel leak, an electrical short or the ignition of something flammable in the cabin or trunk caused a limousine blaze that killed five women on the San Mateo Bridge, experts on vehicle fires said Monday.
Authorities looking into Saturday's fire revealed little Monday, but said the 1999 Lincoln Town Car with nine women aboard had not been in a crash before flames spread from its rear. They said road debris did not appear to be a factor.
The driver, Orville Brown of San Jose, said in an interview that he did not know the cause of the fire, but he speculated it was electrical. The owner of the limousine company, Limo Stop Inc. of San Jose, declined to comment Monday.
Experts on fire investigations said the absence of a collision was significant.
In 2005, Ford Motor Co. offered a free upgrade to owners of Lincoln Town Cars made before 2001, after car-safety advocates said the placement of the gas tank behind the rear axle left it vulnerable to being punctured and exploding in a rear-end crash.
The California Highway Patrol, meanwhile, said the Town Car was allowed to hold up to eight passengers, not nine, under rules set by the California Public Utilities Commission. The CHP said investigators do not know whether the presence of an extra person contributed to the fire.