Burning Man death under probe with thousands still stranded

Tribune Content Agency

Police are investigating the death of a person at the Burning Man festival in Nevada after heavy rains left the site mired in mud, stranding thousands of attendees.

There is no further information on the cause of the death at this time, police said in a statement. The incident occurred during a “rain event” that forced local officials to shut down the entrance and airports to Black Rock City, in the northwestern Nevada desert, where the event is held.

Organizers said that roads may dry enough for gates to reopen and vehicles to exit late Monday, if weather conditions are favorable. Meanwhile, attendees have been asked to take shelter and conserve food, water and fuel. More than 70,000 people typically descend on Black Rock City each year for the week-long event.

The organizers said they planned to deploy mobile cell trailers as well as send buses to Gerlach, adjacent to Black Rock Desert, to move people to Reno, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) away.

As much as 0.8 inch of rain fell on Friday night. More rain is expected Sunday, according to Accuweather. The festival, which began August 27, is scheduled to conclude on Monday.

From humble origins — having started life as an informal gathering in 1986 in San Francisco — Burning Man has gathered a monied, celebrity following in recent years. Some of this year’s attendees include the musician Diplo, who posted on social media platform X that he walked 5 miles in the mud to escape the venue.

The kick off to this year’s event was disrupted when a group of protesters blocked the highway to the festival, demanding that organizers ban private jets, single use plastics and unlimited power use at the event. Four activists were arrested.