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Man dies after running into fire at Burning Man

By | Published on Monday 4 September 2017

Burning Man

Organisers of the Burning Man festival yesterday provided ’emotional support teams’ for both participants and staff following the death of a man who ran into the large fire from which the event takes it name, where an effigy of a giant man is set ablaze. Aaron Joel Mitchell, a US citizen who lived in Switzerland, pushed pass two sets of security on Saturday night in order to run into the burning structure.

Fire personnel attempted to rescue the man, but were hindered as elements of the framework that had been set alight began to fall, and ultimately had to wait until the much of the burning structure was down in order to pull him from the blaze. According to CNN, Mitchell was then airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, but was confirmed dead on Sunday morning.

The Sheriff of Pershing County, which includes the part of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert where the annual cultural gathering takes place, told reporters: “Our hearts and prayers go out to Aaron’s family during this unexpected tragedy”. He said the incident was a “tragedy” for everyone at the festival, and especially for the “juveniles who are allowed to attend the festival and may not have the same coping skills as adults do when they see something this tragic happen before their eyes”.

Burning Man organisers said that some of the ‘burns’ that form part of the event’s programme had been cancelled on Sunday, but that the large ‘temple burn’ at the climax of the festival last night would go ahead as planned.

In a statement on their website, organisers stated: “Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, succumbed Sunday morning to injuries suffered after breaking through a safety perimeter Saturday night and running into a fire at the annual Burning Man event in northern Nevada. Mr Mitchell’s family has been advised of his death. Burning Man is working with local and federal law enforcement agencies, and an investigation is currently ongoing”.

They went on: “We’re aware this incident has affected not only those who responded immediately on the scene, but also those who witnessed it, and our community more broadly. We are working to make resources available to those affected”.