Officials in Nevada are concerned about the deaths at the site of the Burning Man festival that left thousands of attendees stranded Saturday night after a storm flooded the Nevada desert.
RENO, Nev. — Authorities in Nevada are investigating the death of thousands of attendees at the Burning Man festival site Saturday night after storms flooded the Nevada desert.
The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said the death occurred during the event, but provided few details as the investigation continued, including the identity of the deceased or a suspected cause of death, KNSD-TV reported.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Black Rock Desert where the festival takes place, said vehicle gates will not be open for the remainder of the event, which begins Aug. 27 and ends Monday.
More than an inch and a half of rain is believed to have fallen Friday at the festival site, located about 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of Reno, the National Weather Service in Reno said. Another quarter of an inch of rain is expected Sunday.
The Reno Gazette Journal Organizers began rationing ice sales and all vehicular traffic was halted on the sprawling festival grounds, leaving small restrooms unserviceable.
Officials have not yet said when the entrance will reopen, and it was not immediately clear when revelers could leave the grounds.
The announcements came just before the climactic moment of the annual event – when a large wooden effigy will be set on fire on Saturday night.
Messages sent Saturday afternoon by The Associated Press to both the Bureau of Land Management and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, the agencies that closed the entrance, were not immediately returned.
Many played beer pong, danced and splashed in the stagnant water, the Gazette Journal reported. Mike Jett, a festival-goer, and fellow campers built a bucket toilet so people didn’t have to go through the mud as often.
“If it really turns out to be a disaster, no one is going to feel sorry for us,” Jett said. “I mean, it’s Burning Man.”
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