Tens of thousands of festival-goers who endured days of being marooned at the Burning Man festival are now departing, causing extensive traffic congestion in the Nevada desert.
Persistent heavy rainfall transformed the remote festival grounds into a muddy quagmire and rendered the roads impassable, trapping approximately 72,000 attendees.
Exit access was granted starting Monday afternoon, triggering a mass exodus from the venue. As of Tuesday morning, the wait time to leave the festival stood at five hours, with reports of heightened tensions in the departure queue.
El sheriff del condado de Pershing, Jerry Allen, informó en un comunicado al San Francisco Chronicle que los juerguistas exhaustos habían tenido altercados mientras intentaban salir. También señaló que cantidades sustanciales de propiedades y basura estaban esparcidas en el lugar del festival, incluidos vehículos abandonados.
“Algunos participantes optaron por abandonar sus vehículos y efectos personales al no querer esperar ni utilizar el camino establecido para salir del desierto”, afirmó.
The festival’s customary climax, the effigy burning, was postponed twice before finally taking place on Monday evening.
The rainstorm that deluged the Black Rock Desert in the final days of the event is believed to be the most protracted and intense rainfall the festival has experienced in over 30 years.
Dancer Martyna Sowa, scheduled to perform at the event, expressed surprise at the deteriorating conditions on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
“It was a truly unusual experience,” she remarked.
Festival attendees, typically expected to be self-reliant, were instructed to seek shelter and conserve their supplies of food, fuel, and water. However, the inclement weather caused the portable toilet facilities to become temporarily unusable, as service vehicles couldn’t navigate the mud for emptying.
While many remained on-site, some hiked five miles (8km) through the mire to reach the nearest road. Among them were American DJ Diplo and comedian Chris Rock, who received assistance from fans after departing the area over the weekend.
Others embraced the muddy conditions, dancing and hosting karaoke parties. “I’m having a great time,” exclaimed Jazz Korona to the BBC.
However, by Sunday, the initial excitement had given way to growing frustration, with a rising desire among attendees to leave.
Faye, a Burning Man festival participant from London, recounted being “covered in mud for the past three days.”
“There are no showers here,” she lamented. “The only option is to clean up with baby wipes inside your tent.”
The unusual rainstorms coincided with the conclusion of the nine-day festival when the largest crowds gather to witness the grand finale: the burning of the massive wooden effigy.
Organizers confirmed that a man’s death on Friday was unrelated to the adverse weather conditions. Emergency services responded, but the approximately 40-year-old individual could not be revived, according to the local sheriff’s office.
Burning Man, a renowned American arts and culture event, entails visitors creating a temporary city in the midst of the desert. Established in June 1986, it was first held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in 1990.
Obtaining tickets can be exceptionally challenging, and attendees often undergo interviews to gain entry into popular camps, demonstrating their commitment to the festival’s ideals.