Nevada police are investigating a man’s death at the Burning Man festival, where heavy rains and muddy conditions forced thousands of Labor Day weekend partygoers to hunker down.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the man’s death occurred during the “rain event,” where stranded participants were urged to conserve food, water and fuel and to shelter in place.
The man’s family has been notified, officials said. His identity and cause of death were not disclosed.
There have been deaths at the festival in previous years. Shane Billingham, 33, died there in 2019. Carbon monoxide poisoning was suspected, according to media reports.
The music festival typically draws tens of thousands of people to northwestern Nevada. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported over the weekend that more than 73,000 people were at this year’s festival.
This year, heavy rain turned the sun-baked desert into a swamp, and attendees were instructed by officials to hunker down in tents and RVs. Burning Man organizers reported that Black Rock City received 0.6 to 0.8 of an inch of rain overnight.
Those hoping to watch the incineration of the festival’s eponymous wooden effigy Saturday night were disappointed: The soggy weather prompted a postponement of the climactic ceremony.
Officials closed all roads in and out of the festival grounds and said that operations “have been halted or significantly delayed.”
Officials said that groups of people were able to walk off the festival site to County Road 34. Some vehicles managed to drive away, officials said, but vehicles damaged the playa surface and officials cautioned against driving.
More rain is expected on Sunday, officials said.
Karole Holland-Hagino, who was attending her first festival with her son, said she was in a camp with about 125 people, and although the rain and mud made it hard to walk, she strolled the grounds for about four hours Saturday, barefoot.
She dismissed social media rumors of virus outbreaks at the festival, saying there was no truth to them “at all” and everyone was “healthy and happy.”
“I gotta go … party time,” she texted. “Everyone is great and everyone adapting.”
An individual who goes by the name “Jenn the Burner Nurse” on TikTok told The Times that she has stayed in her camp since Friday night and advised other attendees to do the same.
She described the weather conditions as “less than optimal” but said the atmosphere wasn’t as dire as suggested in media reports.
“So far people are doing well,” she said. “There are camps still serving food and have an open bar. Burners are in good spirits and helping each other out however possible.”