Deadly Limo Fire Prompts U.S. Search for Safety Defects

U.S. auto-safety regulators are looking into whether a limousine involved in a deadly fire in California had any safety defects that would require them to act, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

“The agency is in contact with the local authorities who are investigating to determine if there are vehicle safety implications that merit agency action,” Karen Aldana, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “At this time, NHTSA has no basis for speculating that there have been any violations.”

The May 4 fire on the San Mateo Bridge in California’s San Francisco Bay area killed five women who were trapped in the limousine when it caught fire. Agencies of the U.S. Transportation Department regulate vehicle safety and interstate commercial transportation, while states regulate intrastate commercial transport.

Limousines can be original equipment or manufactured from incomplete vehicles. The vehicle that caught on fire in California was a 1999 Ford Motor Co. Lincoln Town Car, according to the Los Angeles Times. The California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left before regular business hours.

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