A limousine driver escaped injury Friday morning when the limo caught fire near the Solano County Fairgrounds, according to the Vallejo Fire Department.
Only the driver was in the limo when it began to overheat near the North Vallejo Recreation Center at 1121 Whitney Ave., Capt. Morty Culverwell said.
The driver stopped and allowed the limo to cool down, then drove onto Fairgrounds Drive where the limo "sputtered out," Culverwell said.
The driver pulled over in the No. 2 lane near the sidewalk in the 1600 block of Fairgrounds Drive, and when he opened the hood he saw a 4-inch flame near the glove compartment area, Culverwell said.
The driver got a fire extinguisher but the flames were spreading throughout the engine when he returned to the fire so he got a second fire extinguisher, Culverwell said.
By the time the driver returned to the limo, the whole engine and wheel well area were in flames, Culverwell said.
The driver then removed some speakers and other valuables from inside the limo before the blaze spread to the cab area, Culverwell said.
"Witnesses said the limo was completely engulfed in flames within two minutes. It was gutted," Culverwell said.
The fire burned fast and intensely when it reached the upholstery, electronics and heavy wiring inside the 2006, 22- to 24-foot Chrysler stretch limo, Culverwell said.
Seven firefighters from two Vallejo Fire Department engine companies responded around 10:20 a.m. and extinguished the blaze in about seven minutes, Culverwell said.
No passengers were on board when Friday’s fire broke out, but that was not the case last year when five women died after the limo they were riding in caught fire on the San Mateo Bridge. A month later, several elderly women barely escaped when a limousine caught fire in Walnut Creek.
The owners of American Canyon-based FiveO Limo, the company that owns the car that caught fire Friday, said they have never had problems before. They say said limo had just been upgraded and was due to take four people on a wine tour Saturday.
Bay City News contributed to this report.