Creators of the Rose Parade float that caught fire could face a fine, officials say


The builders of a Rose Parade float that caught fire and caused a delay in the parade on New Year’s Day could face a fine, Tournament of Roses officials said Wednesday.

The Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s float, which depicted the moment when two locomotives met face to face upon the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, was disabled as it approached Colorado Boulevard about 9:45 a.m. by a small fire that created a plume of smoke. Descendants of the Chinese, Irish, German, African and Mexican laborers who built the railway were aboard the float, called “Harmony Through Union.”

The fire and ensuing smoke were likely the result of a small leak that created a mist of transmission fluid, which made contact with a hot exhaust pipe, according to Tim Estes, the president of Fiesta Parade Floats, which built “Harmony Through Union.”


The group aboard the float used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. The driver immediately stopped, and everyone was evacuated. The float was stopped along the parade route for several minutes before it was towed. The situation created a traffic jam along the route and confused spectators, who thought the parade had ended and started to leave, spilling onto the parade route.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

“We will be working with the Tournament to determine and verify the cause of the leak … once the float returns from the post-parade showcase later today,” Estes said in a statement.

Parade-goers along Sierra Madre Boulevard enjoy the 2019 Rose Parade.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Tournament of Roses officials said it can issue fines for “unexpected mechanical and design elements” on floats. Fines start at $1,000 and can jump to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the violation.

“At this time, we’re not sure the specific fine until the float is inspected,” the Tournament of Roses said in a statement.

The floats will be on display along Sierra Madre and Washington boulevards from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Twitter: @Hannahnfry