Burning Man, an annual counterculture festival in the Black Rock Desert, has been closed to vehicles after one death was reported. The event, which attracts nearly 80,000 artists, musicians, and activists, has experienced disruptions in recent years, including temporary closures due to dust storms and the pandemic.
Over half an inch of rain fell at the festival site on Friday, disrupting this year’s festival. Organizers closed entrances to the festival in 2018 due to dust storms, and the event was twice canceled altogether during the pandemic. The road closures came just before a large wooden effigy was supposed to have been burned Saturday night.
Organizers said that all burning had been postponed, and authorities were working to open exit routes by the end of the Labor Day weekend. Officials said late Saturday they didn’t yet know when the roads would “be dry enough for RVs or vehicles to navigate safely,” but they were hopeful vehicles could depart by late Monday if weather conditions improved.
President Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware that he is aware of the situation at Burning Man, including the death, and that the White House is in touch with local officials. Biden did not know the cause of his death. Attendees trudged through mud, many barefoot or with plastic bags on their feet. Revelers were urged to conserve supplies of food and water, and most remained hunkered down at the site. Some, however, managed to walk several miles to the nearest town or catch a ride there. The event is remote on the best of days and emphasizes self-sufficiency, meaning most people bring in their own food, water, and other supplies.