Limo Experts Weigh in on Possible Cause of Fire

Investigators say it could be weeks if not months before they determine a cause

Two days after a limousine caught fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, the cause of the blaze remains unknown.

Five of the nine women riding in the limo did not make it out alive. Four managed to get out through the privacy partition in the front of the vehicle. 

NBC Bay Area spoke Monday night to two people considered experts in limos.

Russell Mc McGillicuddy owns Air One Limousines in San Jose. 

McGillicuddy said the two doors in the limo that caught fire Saturday lock automatically when the limo was in park, and unlocking them may have proven too much in those terrifying moments.  One of his limos has a third passenger area door in the front, which was not the case Saturday night. 

He noted one possibility for the source of the fire is a lit cigarette perhaps, tossed into the trash container in the trunk, which is accessible to passengers.

Another possibility comes from Michael Ehline, an attorney specializing in limousine law.

He wonders if the air bladders keeping the tires from scraping against the wheel wells in the 14-year-old limousine might have deflated.

"What will happen is those rear tires can scrape against the rear wheel wells and remember tires are made out of petroleum products. Once it gets to flashpoint the tire will literally ignite and that heat build up next to that gas tank can actually ignite that gas tank," Ehline said.

The limousine that caught on fire was carrying nine women to a bridal party but it was only licensed to carry a maximum of eight passengers, the California Highway Patrol confirmed Monday.

"Our report is merely fact-finding at this point," CHP Capt. Mike Maskarich said.

Both limo experts we talked to Monday night said however the fire started, it is clear who is responsible,the owner of the limousine company, LimoStop in San Jose.

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