One person has died at Burning Man in Nevada amid a weekend of rain and mud which has seen festivalgoers forced to shelter in place.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in northern Nevada said the death happened ‘during this rain event’ but gave few other details as to what the cause was, nor the person’s identity.
‘As this death is still under investigation, there is no further information available at this time,’ the sheriff’s office said in a statement on Saturday night.
Tens of thousands of revelers attending the event in the Nevada desert were told to stay put and conserve food and water on Saturday after a massive rainstorm turned the site into a mud pit.
The final weekend of the hedonisitic event ground to a halt on Friday night as freezing, mud-caked conditions took over.
‘Do not travel to Black Rock City!.’ Burning Man organizers tweeted, referring to the desert area where the alternative festival takes place
‘Access to the city is closed for the remainder of the event, and you will be turned around’, organizers said in a statement on social media.
‘Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa,’ they explained.
Shai Peza of Chicago frolics in the mud and water at Burning Man on Saturday
Dirty D of Los Angeles dives into the mud at Burning Man preferring to move around on all-fours
Shai Peza of Chicago frolics in the mud and water at Burning Man on Saturday
This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technology shows an overview of the annual Burning Man festival underway in Nevada’s Black Rock desert on August 29, 2023 – before rain
Burning Man attendees try to leave the festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada
Burners attempt to walk out of Burning Man after heavy rains on Friday night
Following the rains, a double rainbow could be seen over the site
Thousands of Burning Man attendees trudged in sloppy mud on Saturday – many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet – as flooding from storms swept through the Nevada desert.
About six inches of rain is believed to have fallen on Friday at the festival site, located about 110 miles north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said.
Another three inches of rain is expected from late Saturday into Sunday and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa,’ the U.S. Bureau of Land Management explained.
Revelers have been suffering from hypothermia after unprecedented storms washed out the festival.
Organizers urged festivalgoers already on site to ‘conserve food, water and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space.’
Dirty D of LA adopted a playa name that he is known by all week, and declined to give the name he uses in the ‘default world’
A Burning Man participant makes their way through the mud carrying the essentials of water and coffee
The muddy landscape saw organizers instruct festivalgoers to stay put under drier conditions
Torrential rains saw access to and from the site completely cut off with officials concerned should vehicles continue to cross the muddy landscape it would make further travel impossible in the days to come
One person could even be seen with a boat that had been parked up on the site
People use plastic bags to cover their shoes as others are seen with their boots covered in mud
With attendees forced to shelter in place, one person could be seen carrying a case of beer
Additional rain is expected on Sunday and ‘burners’ could be trapped for days
Clothes and shoes are completely caked in mud as they trundle across the slippery site
Organizers and Black Rock Desert rangers are telling attendees not to drive as it destroys the exit pathways
Muddy footprints quickly fill with rainwater following the downpours
They said rain was unlikely to stop until Sunday night. The festival was scheduled to conclude on Monday.
Due to downpours, the ‘playa,’ the huge open-air esplanade where the event unfolds, was rendered impassable.
Those not trapped in the grounds tried not to let the storms dampen their mood, however, with local bars packed with festivalgoers still hoping to make the most of a bad situation.
Upwards of 100,000 people are believed to have made their way to the Nevada wasteland this year, making it among the most attended in Burning Man’s history, and the event is always among the most hotly anticipated for festivalgoers every summer.
But after the heavens opened on Thursday, torrential storms are thought to have brought the most rainfall that the event has seen since its inception in 1986.
Many attendees have taken to social media to offer a glimpse inside the ruined event, with one sharing a gloomy video of the soaked art installations.
Thick, pasty mud surrounded Paul Reder’s RV on Saturday afternoon, as scattered patches of blue tried to break through the gray cloud cover above him.
‘Fortunately we’re in a fairly big camp with a lot of supplies,’ Reder said during a video call. ‘As a community, everybody’s sharing with each other.’
Reder, who has been attending the event for 22 years, said he expected it would take at least two days for the area to dry out.
While he was prepared to ride it out, Reder said some attendees are leaving the site on foot and trekking to the nearest highway about 12 miles away.
The Reno Gazette Journal showed festivalgoers with garbage bags wrapped around their legs as they walked through mud.
The newspaper reported that organizers had started rationing ice sales and that all vehicle traffic at the sprawling festival grounds had been stopped, leaving portable toilets unable to be serviced.
Burning Man attendees try to leave Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert
Even once attendees walk out of Burning Man they are still 12 miles from the tiny town of Gerlach, Nevada
Ben Joos of Nevada and Dub Kitty of Idahot try to figure out which way to walk in the mud at Burning Man after a night of dancing with friends
Dawn on Saturday brought a muddy realization to the Burning Man encampment, where the exit gates remain closed indefinitely
Some attendees appear to have had enough and could be seen loading up vehicles to escape
One man is seen completely caked in mud both on his vehicle and his face
A stay in place order was made in the early hours of Friday night but some decided to try and walk
Tracks left by vehicles coming into and out of the site can be seen on the desert floor
Recognized pathways into and out of the site and now resemble a muddy slalom course
Flood waters sit still in Gerlach, Nevada, the closes town to the Burning Man festival
Some people were able to get around the site in ATVs equipped to traverse the muddy landscape
Officials haven´t yet said when the entrance is expected to be opened again, and it wasn’t immediately known when celebrants could leave the grounds.
The announcements came just before the culminating moment for the annual event – when a large wooden effigy was to be burned Saturday night.
One video on TikTok saw a festivalgoer pan a camera across a platform holding several soggy sculptures stationed on the mud-caked desert.
In another video, a reveler gave their advice about ‘what to do at Burning Man when its raining.’
While they opted not to join others in local bars, they recommended ‘singing karaoke’ and placing plastic zip-lock bags over your feet and walking ‘as little as possible’ to avoid the grubby grounds.
While riding dune buggies and bikes around the Burning Man camp has been a regular sight at the annual bash, organizers have also been forced to ban the practice due to the treacherous conditions.
‘Do not drive your vehicle. Do not ride your bike, do not push your bike around. Remain where you are. Secure structures and belongings in your camp,’ urged one message to Twitter.
Cones line the muddy routes towards the festival although the gates have now been shuttered
The site of the Burning Man festival is a lakebed meaning the site gets extremely muddy when it rains
For some it appeared easier to strip down to avoid clothes being caked in mud
A stay in place order was made in the early hours of Friday night but some attempted to brave the muddy tracks
Those hoping to attend the festival are seen by the roadside
A man can be seen trying to walk out of the site with his belongings including a sleeping bag
These shoes will likely never be worn again following their muddy ordeal
The Burning Man site can be seen in the distance as some attempt to leave the site entirely
The sitting rainwater looks like a desert mirage with mountains in the distance
The festival appears to be the wettest in living memory
From higher ground things don’t look so bad – but on the ground it is a mulchy mess
Following the torrential rainfall, Sunday is again expected to be among the wettest days of the festival and while the rain will make the grounds unpleasant, flash flooding is not expected
Despite organizers ordering people not to drive over the mud, a group could be heard yelling in the video at a large black SUV to ‘stop’, after several vehicles have been stuck in the mud in recent days.
The rain made the ground extremely slippery, with sticky mud clinging to bike tires and shoe treads forcing attendees to shuffle around.
‘It’s just very slippery. And you can’t drive and it’s hard to maneuver through there and stuff like that. [The ground] just turns to like a paste, basically. So yeah, certainly not ideal,’ meteorologist Scott McGuire told SFGate.
Following the torrential rainfall, Sunday is again expected to be among the wettest days of the festival and while the rain will make the grounds unpleasant, flash flooding is not expected.
The Chapel of Babel was supposed to have been burned down on Friday night but remained standing on Saturday morning due to the atrocious weather conditions
The Man effigy, which is scheduled to be burned on Saturday night. All burns scheduled for Friday were cancelled
Dub Kitty and Ben Joos, of Idaho and Nevada, respectively, walk through the mud at Burning Man site
The remnants of the rain are seen in Gerlach, Nevada
Dirty D of LA appeared to be at one with the mud and looked to be bathing in the mess
A Burning Man participant shows off her mud-covered foot
An abandoned pool float – usually worn ironically at the dry, dusty Burning Man – sits in a puddle of mud
Many disgruntled attendees have taken to social media to reveal the aftermath of the torrential storms, showing the Nevada desert transformed into a mud-caked swamp
Some festivalgoers headed to local bars to make the most of their trip after storms ruined the final weekend of Burning Man
Two local watering holes in Gerlach, Nevada were packed after heavy storms ground the festival to a halt
The festival was put under a mandatory ‘stay in place order’ after the boggy conditions caused cars to be stuck in the mud and art installations and structures at the event to become sodden
A double rainbow was seen shortly after Friday evening’s downpours
Friday and Sunday were expected to be the wettest days of the festival
.The roads are so bad walking is virtually impossible, and organizers have asked everyone to ‘hunker down’ and stay in their camps
While the Black Rock Desert rarely gets this much rain at once, the last time it did Burning Man organizers were forced to shut the gate for several days
Burning Man organizers are telling burners to shelter in place, not operate generators or other electrically powered instruments that are standing in water and cover anything electrical
The National Weather Service report for the Black Rock region shows showers continuing intermittently through Sunday night then clearing by Monday
Last year, the festival contended with an intense heat wave and strong winds, which made the experience difficult for the ‘burners,’ as festivalgoers are known.
Tens of thousands travel to the remote area in northwest Nevada every year gathering in the temporary city to make art, dance, and enjoy community.
Burning Man aims to be an undefinable event, somewhere between a celebration of counterculture and a spiritual retreat.
The festival gets its name from its culminating event, the burning of a large wooden 40-foot effigy called the Man on the penultimate night.
The gathering, which originated as a small function in 1986 on a San Francisco beach has a budget of $45 million and is now also attended by celebrities and social media influencers, was scheduled to run from August 27 until September 4.