Death investigation launched at Burning Man, flooding strands 70,000 at festival that Chris Rock escaped by hitchhiking

News & Politics

Thousands of attendees have been stranded at the site of the Burning Man festival after the desert area in Nevada was flooded. Authorities are investigating a death at the eccentric festival held in Black Rock City, Nevada.

Storms poured up to 0.8 inches of rain in the Black Rock Desert between Friday and Saturday – the 24-hour rainfall total was the same amount of rain that the area receives in two to three months, according to CNN.

The rain caused the typically arid desert grounds to transform into thick, clay-like mud.

Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management previously warned that when the Black Rock Desert receives precipitation, it means “driving conditions could be severely impacted.”

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“The Playa is an ancient lake bed and when wet, and can be impassable,” the Nevada’s BLM wrote in a June Facebook post. “Vehicles can get very stuck due to the fine silt and clay minerals that exist on the Playa. Stuck vehicles can also impact the Playa ecosystem. Additionally, cell service can be spotty and towing services are limited. Stay off the wet Playa and stay unstuck!”

The United States Geological Survey defines playa as “a dry, vegetation-free, flat area at the lowest part of an undrained desert basin. It is a location where ephemeral lakes form during wet periods, and is underlain by stratified clay, silt, and sand, and commonly, soluble salts.”

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said the mud had “made it virtually impossible for motorized vehicles to traverse the playa.”

Concerned about disabled vehicles by the muddy conditions, Burning Man organizers to close all traffic entering and leaving the festival for the remainder of the event – which runs from Aug. 27 until Sept. 4. Only emergency vehicles are allowed to operate in Black Rock City.

“We need to count on one another to be patient and create safe conditions for our departure,” Burning Man organizers said. “We do not currently have an estimated time for the roads to be dry enough for RVs or vehicles to navigate safely. Monday late in the day would be possible if weather conditions are in our favor.”

AccuWeather’s forecast for Black Rock City on Sunday: “Mostly cloudy and cool with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm; additional rain can aggravate ongoing flooding.”

The Burning Man organizers published a “2023 Wet Playa Survival Guide,” which advised festivalgoers to shelter in a warm place and conserve food, water, fuel, and other supplies.

Mobile cell trailers were reportedly positioned in Black Rock City on Saturday night to provide phone service to those stranded.

Sgt. Nathan Carmichael with the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said “a little over 70,000 people” remained stranded as of Saturday.

Adding to the issues of the disastrous festival, authorities are investigating a death at Burning Man.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the death happened during Burning Man, but did not inform the public of the identity of the deceased individual or the cause of death.

“The family has been notified and the death is under investigation,” the sheriff’s office said on Saturday.

The ankle-deep mud is so thick that festival attendees struggle to walk through the playa mud pit.

DJ Diplo posted a video to Instagram on Saturday evening of him and comedian Chris Rock escaping Burning Man by walking six miles through the mud. The celebrities were forced to hitchhike to leave the doomed festival and got a ride to the airport in the back of a fan’s pickup truck.

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Burning Man: Flooding traps thousands of attendees, death investigation underway | LiveNOW from

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