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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 4 August 2021

Man dies after running into Burning Man festival flames

More than 70,000 people are attending the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Burning Man Death The "Man" burns on the Black Rock Desert at the Burning Man festival Source: Andy Barron via AP

AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING the death of a man who died as a result of injuries sustained after he rushed past layers of security officers into a massive fire at the Burning Man festival’s signature ceremony in Nevada, US.

Late Saturday night, Aaron Joel Mitchell (41) broke through a two-layer security perimeter during the Man Burn event, in which a giant, wooden effigy is set ablaze.

Nevada’s Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen estimated that there was a crowd of about 50,000 people who were present when the festival’s crew of firefighters pulled Mitchell out of the blaze.

He was airlifted to the UC Davis hospital burn centre in California, where he died on Sunday morning. The sheriff said doctors confirmed Mitchell wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, but a toxicology report is pending.

Burning Man Death Source: Andy Barron via AP

Mitchell was a US citizen who had a home in Oklahoma but was living in Switzerland with his wife, the sheriff’s office said.

Burning Man organisers said in a statement that they had cancelled burn events through midday on Sunday but would go ahead with the 8pm temple burn, another signature event that signals the end of the nine-day festival.

More than 70,000 people are attending the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert, about 161 kilometres north of Reno, Nevada.

On-site counselling

Organisers are also offering emotional support counselling on site, saying in a statement: “Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep.”

The festival culminates with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood, a symbol of rebirth, which usually happens the Saturday before the US Labor Day holiday.

It’s followed by the burning of a temple on Sunday before the festivities wrap up today.

Burning Man Death Participants walk through dust at the annual Burning Man event on the Black Rock Desert Source: Andy Barron via AP

Rescue attempts

Attempts to rescue Mitchell were hampered because part of the structure was falling while they were trying to get Mitchell out of it, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said:

Rescuers had to leave him to allow the structure to fall and provide for rescuer safety before they could go back into the flames to extract Aaron from the debris.

Investigators are having a hard time getting information as festival-goers leave the site for their homes, the law enforcement agency said.

Read: Man arrested after fire causes ‘considerable damage’ to Dublin retail outlet

More: Man who used fake Facebook profiles to sexually abuse children jailed for 16 years

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