| 25 July 2024, Thursday |

One death reported at Burning Man, thousands stranded in mud and rain

Authorities in Nevada said on Sunday that they were investigating one death after a violent rainfall stranded tens of thousands of revelers at the annual Burning Man event in dirt, and they asked that they remain in place and save food and water.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in northern Nevada said in a statement that the fatality occurred during a “rain event” on Saturday, but did not specify the cause of death or the identify of the deceased.

“The family has been notified and the death is under investigation,” the sheriff’s office said. “As the death is still under investigation, there is no further information at this time.”

Access to and from Black Rock City, the event site, was closed “for the remainder of the event,” organizers said in a statement on social media.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said the entrance to Burning Man had been closed due to flooding and anyone trying to get in “will be turned away.”

More than 60,000 participants travel to and from the remote area in northwest Nevada every year, according to the event’s website, gathering in the temporary city to make art, dance, and enjoy community at a cost of $575 per person for a regular ticket. Local media reported there were around 73,000 “burners” in Black Rock City.

The festival gets its name from its culminating event, the burning of a large wooden structure called the Man on the penultimate night.

Videos shared on social media showed festival-goers in good spirits wading ankle deep in thick mud. The site is in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a large, flat, ancient lake bed known as a playa.

“Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa,” the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the agency that manages the land on which the event takes place, said in a statement on Saturday. “More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa.”

On Saturday, attendee Paul Reder, who has been going to the event for 22 years, told Reuters in a video call that he expected it would take at least two days for the area to dry out.

“Fortunately we’re in a fairly big camp with a lot of supplies,” Reder said. “As a community, everybody’s sharing with each other.”

While he was prepared to ride it out, Reder said some attendees were leaving the site on foot and trekking to the nearest highway.

The gathering, which originated as a small function in 1986 on a San Francisco beach and is now also attended by celebrities and social media influencers, was scheduled to run from Aug. 27 until Sept. 4.

  • Reuters