Officials on Wednesday said they were working to determine what caused a leak on a float that abruptly broke down during the Rose Parade as the Tournament of Roses mulls whether to levy a fine over the incident at the annual New Year's Day event.
Wisps of smoke began wafting up from the Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s train float as it approached Colorado Boulevard from Orange Grove Boulevard around 9:45 a.m., aerial video showed. The smoke soon became thicker, but -- almost as quickly -- disappeared.
The smoke was apparently the result of a small leak that created a fine mist of transmission fluid, which then made contact with a hot exhaust pipe, according to a statement from Tim Estes, the president of Fiesta Parade Floats.
The driver immediately halted the float, which was immediately evacuated, he said.
It was stopped along the middle of the route for about 10 minutes before a large tow truck attempted to pull the float off the route.
That created a backup of the remaining bands and floats as they tried to navigate the clogged-up route. It disrupted television coverage, including KTLA's, and also created mass confusion among spectators, who -- thinking the parade had concluded -- began to leave.
It was still not immediately clear what caused the leak, and Estes said that will be investigated Wednesday.
"We will be working hand-in-hand with the Tournament to determine the cause of the leak once the float returns from the post parade showcase later today," he said.
It's possible the incident could result in a financial penalty.
A float can be subjected to fines -- generally ranging from $1,000 to $80,000 -- if it breaks downs during the Rose Parade, the Pasadena Star News reported.
It's not known yet if the Tournament of Roses will decide to impose one in this case.
"Our primary concern is safety and we will be working with Tournament officials to prevent future incidents based on our findings," Estes said.
A publicist issued the statement on behalf of Estes on Wednesday morning, in part to clarify some misinformation that circulated after the parade ended, according to an email sent to KTLA.