At the site of the Burning Man festival in Nevada, where hundreds of participants are still trapped after flooding from storms blasted the desert, authorities are investigating a death.
On Saturday, organizers of the counterculture celebration banned vehicles from the site, leaving festivalgoers to slog through muck while wearing nothing but plastic bags or going barefoot.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a death occurred at the event, but provided little more details, such as the identification of the victim or the manner in which they died.
The festival’s website reassures attendees to keep their cool and claims the venue can withstand natural disasters like the recent flooding. It was announced that some sites would have temporary internet access overnight on Saturday after mobile phone trailers were dropped off.
There were also shuttle buses set up to transport people from Gerlach, the closest town, which is roughly a five mile walk from the site, to Reno.
At Burning Man, you’ll find a group of folks ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. In a statement, the organizers explained that they had brought everything they would need to stay alive to the event.
“Because of this, everyone here is ready for this kind of weather.”
Diplo, a famous DJ, shared a video of himself and comedian Chris Rock sitting shotgun in the back of a fan’s pickup truck on Instagram on Saturday night.
He claimed they trudged through muck for six kilometres before flagging down a passing vehicle.
“I legit walked the side of the road for hours with my thumb out,” Diplo, whose true name is Thomas Wesley Pentz, wrote.
Well, no one will feel bad for us if it turns out to be a real tragedy. This is, after all, Burning Man.
The US Bureau of Land Management, which is in charge of the Black Rock Desert where the festival is taking place, announced on Friday that the vehicle gates will remain closed until the event ended on Monday, August 31.
The National Weather Service estimates that the event site, which is about 110 miles north of Reno, received more than half an inch of rain on Friday. On Sunday, we may anticipate at least another 0.2 inches of precipitation.
The Reno Gazette Journal stated that ice sales were restricted and that vehicle movement had been halted at the massive event grounds, rendering the portable restrooms unusable.
Late Saturday, event organizers reiterated that the gates would stay locked until it was determined when guests would be allowed to leave.
Roads are closed and will remain so until they are “dry enough for RVs or vehicles to navigate safely,” according to event organizers.
Vehicles may be able to leave as early as Monday night if the weather improves.
The big wooden effigy was set to be burned on Saturday night, so the announcements came just in time.
For hours, I actually stood by the roadside with my thumb out.
Bureau of Land Management spokesperson John Asselin pleaded with festivalgoers to turn around and head home so that access routes would stay open for emergency and other vehicles. He reported seeing “a steady stream” of cars exiting the event grounds.
He declared, “People are leaving.”
The Gazette Journal said that a large crowd participated in activities such as beer pong, dancing, and splashing in pools of standing water.
Mike Jed, one of the festivalgoers, and his friends campers constructed a bucket toilet so that festivalgoers wouldn’t have to slog through the mud as often to use the portable toilets.
“If it really turns into a disaster, well, no one is going to have sympathy for us,” Mr. Jed remarked.
As in, “I mean, it’s Burning Man.”