OAKLAND -- A fund has been established to support the four survivors and the families of five women killed in Saturday's limousine fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.
The Fruitvale Healthcare Center -- the Oakland nursing home where the women met and bonded -- set up the account Thursday with the help of Bank of America. Anyone wishing to help can donate to "The San Mateo Bridge Angels Fund Account" at any Bank of America branch.
The women were on their way to a celebration in Foster City for 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, who was recently married, when the 1999 Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine suddenly burst into flames. Four women -- Jasmine Deguia, Mary Grace Guardiano, Nelia Arellano and Amalia Loyola -- escaped through the driver's compartment. Five others -- Fojas, Anna Alcantara, Michelle Estrera, Jennifer Balon and Felomina Geronga -- died in the blaze.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. But the horrific inferno has raised concerns about an inspection loophole: Unlike larger limousines, buses and airport shuttles, smaller limousines, like the one carrying the women on Saturday, are not required to undergo routine safety inspections or carry a fire extinguisher.
A spokeswoman for the Fruitvale Healthcare Center said an appointed committee will decide how to disburse the donations to the survivors and families of the victims. Eight of the women are current or former employees of the center and another woman's husband currently works there.
"We will continue to keep these brave individuals in our thoughts and prayers," spokeswoman Annaliese Impink said in a statement.