NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — As new details emerged Monday on the limousine fire that killed five people in the Bay Area on Saturday night, one local limousine company owner said safety regulations should be improved to restrict the use of older vehicles.
Five women died and four were injured Saturday when a 1999 Lincoln limousine caught fire over the San Francisco Bay. The driver and four women who escaped by climbing through the partition survived; the five women killed were reportedly found huddled in the backseat.
The women were reportedly celebrating the upcoming wedding of 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, who was among those killed in the blaze.
Other than the rear two doors, a partition separated the driver from passengers less than eight feet from the flames at the rear of the vehicle.
Harry Sargisian operates Los Angeles Limousine Service in North Hollywood, which is not affiliated with the Bay Area company.
“This is a tragedy,” said Sargisian. “As soon as I heard their story it shocked me.”
Sargisian told CBS2’s Serene Branson that limousine doors are designed to lock while the car is in drive.
While accidents happen, Sargisian said safety should be the number one concern.
His company’s limousines are inspected by the CHP and self-inspected every week, according to Sargisian. He believes companies should not be allowed to operate older vehicles out of concern for passenger safety.
“The CHP or a public utility commission has to come up with some type of law, which is going to make the limo companies operate only newer vehicles,” made in 2005 or later, Sargisian said.
With weddings and proms, he said his limousines are booked nearly every weekend this time of year.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.