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A burned out 2009 limousine is parked in a driveway along Skycrest Drive in the Rossmoor...

WALNUT CREEK -- A group of 10 women -- most of them in their mid-90s -- dolled up in hats and fancy dresses and prepared to head to Sonoma to celebrate a friend's 96th birthday Sunday morning, escaped injury when their idling limousine burst into flames, according to neighbors and authorities.
Contra Costa County Fire District crews were called about 11:35 a.m. Sunday to Skycrest Drive in the Rossmoor gated community for a vehicle fire. The fire burning the 2009 Lincoln town car was quickly put out, a dispatcher said.
According to neighbor Judy Becker, one of two caregivers on hand for the birthday excursion started smelling smoke.
"I was told she dashed to the doors, and with the other caregiver, started helping out those with walkers and canes, before the fire really erupted," Becker said.
Mary Chapman, one of those in Sunday's limo fire, told ABC 7 News it reminded many of those involved of the deadly May 4 limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge. That fire killed a new bride and four of her friends.
They were grateful the limo wasn't moving or on the freeway when it caught fire, Chapman said.
Walnut Creek police Lt. Lanny Edwards said the department is investigating the circumstances of Sunday's fire, particularly given the "history of what transpired" last month on the bridge. As of Sunday, nothing of a criminal nature had been discovered.
"We've notified CHP of what happened, and we're going to be following up on it," Edwards said.
The owner of the limo, who declined to be identified, told this newspaper Sunday that the fire appeared to have been caused by an electrical problem.
The women made it to the birthday party nonetheless, all traveling in their own cars or having someone drive them.
Susan Tripp Pollard contributed to this story. Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at