'Trapped' Burning Man revellers walk to safety from flooded desert as mass exodus from site begins

4 September 2023, 10:13 | Updated: 4 September 2023, 10:14

Flash flooding has hit Burning Man festival in Nevada, USA
Flash flooding has hit Burning Man festival in Nevada, USA. Picture: social media/Getty

By Asher McShane

Burning man festival-goers have been sharing their ‘harrowing’ escapes from the desert festival after thousands of people were stranded there by severe flooding.

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People complained of bring ‘trapped’ following heavy rain and flooding in Nevada that turned the festival site into a mud bath.

One person died at the festival on Saturday during the rainstorm - but organisers stressed the death was not a result of the weather.

The local sheriff is investigating the death.

On Sunday, Burning Man’s CEO said: “there is no cause for panic” and described it as not an ”evacuation situation.”

Festival-goers walk through the mud at Burning Man festival
Festival-goers walk through the mud at Burning Man festival. Picture: Getty

Former U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal said he experienced an ‘incredibly harrowing 6 mile hike at midnight through heavy and slippery mud’ to escape the festival.

Investment banker John LeFevre posted: “Zero sympathy for people 'trapped' at Burning Man.

“A bunch of nerds cosplaying as post-apocalyptic feudal elites… Don't like the mud? Walk the 6 miles back…

“And boo hoo to the 'influencers' who can't meet sponsored content requirements and have to send the money back.”

Conditions at the site have now eased enough that revellers can start to leave. Vehicles are able to drive on the mud without getting stuck and camper vans have begun to leave the event.

Revellers were told to conserve food, fuel and water as the rain hit. Bad weather put toilet facilities out of action because service vehicles could not drive on the mud to empty them.

Some festival attendees were expecting to be trapped on the site until Tuesday.

Others chose to hike five miles through the mud to the closest road - with buses arranged to take people into the city of Reno, Nevada.

Organisers closed vehicle access to the festival on Saturday, with attendees told to conserve their food and water as poor weather continued.

It is understood more than an inch of rain fell at the festival site on Friday, which is located about 110 miles north of Reno.

The Reno Gazette Journal reported that organisers started rationing ice sales and that all vehicle traffic at the sprawling festival grounds had been stopped, leaving portable toilets unable to be serviced.

An inch of rain fell at the festival on Friday
An inch of rain fell at the festival on Friday. Picture: social media

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The announcements came just before the culminating moment for the annual event - when a large wooden effigy was to be burned Saturday night.

Many people played beer pong, danced and splashed in standing water, the Gazette Journal said.

Mike Jed, a festival-goer, and fellow campers made a bucket toilet so people did not have to trudge as often through the mud to reach the portable toilets.

"If it really turns into a disaster, well, no-one is going to have sympathy for us," Mr Jed said. "I mean, it's Burning Man."

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