Once every year, thousands gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create “Black Rock City”. By the end of the festival, the attendants burn a large wooden effigy (“the Man”) as a symbolic ritual that traditionally occurs on the Saturday evening of the event.
During this year’s event, a man from Oklahoma died after jumping into the flames from the annual Nevada festival’s signature effigy. FIrefighters were forced to wait for the structure to fall before they could attempt a rescue.
Firefighters and other rescue crews chased Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, who slipped through a safety perimeter and sprinted for the flames at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Graphic images show the man diving head-first into the flames.
Black Rock City fire crews were forced to wait for the wooden figure to crumble before rushing in to save Mitchell among the fiery debris — instead of risking their own safety.
“Rescuers had to leave him to allow the structure to fall,” according to a Pershing County Sheriff’s Office statement. Police said Mitchell was an Oklahoma residence living in Switzerland with his wife.
Mitchell was treated at the scene and airlifted to a burn center, the festival said in a statement posted to its website.
This is not the first time someone died during the festival. Back in 2003, there was an accident involving “Mad-Max” mutant vehicles that crashed while driving around the makeshift city. 4 people were taken to the hospital and 2 people died in the accident. Burning Man has been held every year since 1986. At that time, the festival was held in San Francisco up until 1990 when it was moved to a remote are in Nevada.