41-Year-Old Dies After Running Into Fire At Burning Man

4 September 2017 | 10:24 am | Staff Writer

Organisers say they 'are working to make resources available to those affected' by the incident.

Attendees at Burning Man in Nevada have been left reeling after a man broke past a safety barrier and firefighting crews to run into a fire during one of the annual festival's scheduled burn events, dying of his injuries in hospital.

As ABC reports, the incident occurred on Saturday night local time, during the festival's 'Man Burn' ceremony. The victim has been identified as 41-year-old Aaron Joel Mitchell of Oklahoma.

According to a statement from festival organisers, local and federal authorities are now investigating his death. The US ABC reports that Mitchell was not under the influence of alcohol when he ran into the flames, but that a toxicology report is pending.

Reports suggest that emergency personnel attempted to intercept Mitchell as he broke towards the blaze, but these attempts proved unsuccessful, with firefighters having to abandon their attempts to save him due to the collapsing structure.

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He was eventually retrieved and treated on the scene before being transported to the on-site medical facility and flown to the UC Davis Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center, organisers said, though "he succumbed after arriving at the burn center".

"We’re aware this incident has affected not only those who responded immediately on the scene, but also those who witnessed it, and our Black Rock City community more broadly," organisers said in their response. "We are working to make resources available to those affected."

Among those resources, Burning Man has made available emotional support teams to attendees and event staff.

"Now is a time for closeness, contact and community," its organisers said. "Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep."

More than 70,000 people made the trek to the Nevada desert for this year's Burning Man. In immediate response to the incident, its organisers cancelled further scheduled burns through till noon on Sunday (local time), though it will proceed with the scheduled 8pm Temple Burn ceremony, signalling the end of the nine-day festival.