Monorail Catches Fire at Cal Expo During State Fair

CAL EXPO -- A shower of sparks, raining down at the California State Fair.

And not just sparks, parts too, from the malfunctioning monorail.

“It was a part about the size of my arm. And it landed right on my freezer,” said Steve Roy.

For more than a dozen years, Steve Roy has been selling smoothies at the State Fair; strawberry is his most popular, but he says they’re all good.

This Saturday afternoon, though, turned bad in a way he’s never experienced before.

“I’ve never heard something that loud. It was a firework. It was just like exploding,” said Roy.

The grass skirt around Roy’s stand, Maui Wow, is thoroughly treated with fire retardant, something he’s always done.

But he says the sparks started to melt and burn the tarp overhead.

“We knew it had an electrical problem. And we have two choices: either leave it where it sits or try to get it back to work on it. Well... it didn’t make it,” said Barry Schaible.

Schaible is with Coulter Associates. They inspect every ride at the California State Fair, including the monorail, which is a permanent fixture at Cal Expo where the fair is held.

This isn’t the first time that monorail has been a problem. In 2013, passengers had to be off-loaded by fire fighters with a ladder, after the elevated train stalled.

“That thing’s been here since the 1960’s, we have evacuations on monorails at airports, we have them everywhere. Disney has them all the time. It’s not a bad record, and we train for that situation,” said Schaible.

It’s not a situation Steve Roy or his staff ever trained for.

“These big huge chunks start falling. It was amazing,” said Roy.

For now, he’ll be serving his smoothies in the shadow of that disabled monorail. The plan is: try to move it tonight when the fair is closed, and everyone else has gone home.