WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KTVU) -- Ten elderly woman packed into a stretch limousine in Walnut Creek Sunday morning, ready to celebrate a woman’s 90th birthday, when the outing nearly ended tragically after the vehicle caught fire, but everyone escaped the blaze unharmed.
Elaine Lofchie was out celebrating her 90th birthday with six other elderly women and three caregivers in the limo that caught fire in Walnut Creek.
On the street, scorch mark could still be seen Sunday afternoon where the car went up in flames.
Lofchie and her friends and their caregivers packed into a limo headed to her party at her daughter's house in Sonoma, when the Town Car caught fire.
The women were grateful the limo wasn't moving or on the freeway. Instead, it was idling at the curb when the driver started shouting, "Smoke, get out."
"It was a memorable birthday," Lofchie said. "Bad enough that it was my 90th birthday and now I have all this business to remember."
"There was smoke and the ladies were coming out of the back of the car and I was telling them, 'Hurry up. Hurry up.' And I helped one lady out because she uses a walker," said Georgette Vianni, one of the caregivers.
As Vianni walked down the cul-de-sac, she said she saw huge flames burst out of the car from the first third of the car.
Vianni said the limo driver was absolutely wonderful in the situation, but also appeared to be shaken.
The caregivers were all too aware of last month's deadly limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge, which killed a bride and four of her friends, but that fire moved fast.
This fire moved more slowly and allowed the women, all senior citizens, time to get out even though some use walkers or canes. Afterward, they went on to celebrate Lofchie's birthday.
"No more, no limo for me, ever," Lofchie told KTVU Sunday.
They traveled in a private car to Sonoma, leaving behind handbags, even birthday cards that were scorched by the fire.
Everyone marveled at how lucky they were. They were shaken up, but not hurt.
“I don't know what guards they put up for safety, but obviously it wasn't taken care the way it should have, that's how I feel,” Lofchie said.
The limo driver seemed to think the fire was electrical.
Walnut Creek police plan to follow up and have alerted the California Highway Patrol to the incident.
Sunday's fire comes a month after that deadly limousine fire that claimed the lives of five women May 4 on the San Mateo Bridge.
The driver of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car limo was able to pull over and he and four other women managed to escape.
The five women who died were trapped inside the burning car.
The CHP has not yet finished its investigation into the accident.