Tens of thousands of Burning Man attendees are reportedly stranded in the Nevada desert after a heavy rainstorm walloped the Black Rock City metropolis, CNN reports.
The Burning Man playa, where roughly 70,000 people annually gather for the iconic event, has essentially turned into a massive mud pit. A “shelter in place” order is now in effect after attendees were told to conserve food, water and fuel.
Paul Reder, a veteran Burner who is currently onsite for his 22nd event, told FOTOLITERA.com in a phone interview that tents were no longer “livable” and many RV owners are taking in so-called “refugees.”
“Our camp has told us our power is going to eventually run out. Basically we’re stuck,” Reder said. “It’s a pile of mud silt and it’s very slippery. We have food and water, and we’re conserving of course, but we don’t know how long it’s expected to last. It could be Wednesday or Thursday before we get out.”
Burning Man 2023 Mud (; 0:26)
Organizers announced on Saturday afternoon that access to Black Rock City was closed for the remainder of Burning Man 2023.
“Do not ride your bike. Do not push your bike around. Remain where you are,” a broadcaster for Burning Man Information Radio is heard announcing in a video posted to TikTok. “Secure structures and belongings in your camp. Don’t operate generators or other electrically-powered instruments that have been standing in water. Cover or secure anything electrical. Check on your camp-mates and neighbors to make sure they’re okay and help them as needed, and take advantage of a moment of calm to connect with camp-mates and hunker down.”
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The rainstorm also forced the cancellation of a slew of large-scale performative art installations, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The ceremonial torching of Burning Man’s 75-foot tall icon, which annually occurs on the penultimate night of the event, is also in jeopardy.
More showers and thunderstorms are expected to hit Black Rock City overnight on Saturday, organizers announced in a weather forecast update. With the exception of emergency vehicles, driving was also prohibited within the playa.
“The Playa is an ancient lake bed and when wet, and can be impassable. Vehicles can get very stuck due to the fine silt and clay minerals that exist on the Playa,” Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management said in a Facebook post. “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!”