Man Dead After Running Into Fire at Burning Man Festival

BLACK ROCK DESERT, UNITED STATES: Dancers at the "Burning Man" festival create patterns with fireworks in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada just prior to burning a five-story, neon-lit effigy of a man on the last night of the week-long festival 06 September. Some 15,000 people attended the 1998 "Burning Man" festival, which reportedly began 13 years ago in San Francisco, and which always culminates in the burning of a giant effigy of a man. The festival has grown into one of the nation's annual premiere countercultural events, with the size doubling virtually every year and drawing people from as far away as Japan, Europe and Australia. AFP PHOTO Mike NELSON/ (Photo credit should read MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

An Oklahoma man died on Saturday at Burning Man festival’s famous burning ceremony. According to Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen speaking with the Associated Press, the man ran through two layers of security officers at 10:30 pm that night and later died at the UC Davis hospital burn center after being rescued by firefighters.

The man was later identified as 41-year-old Aaron Joel Mitchell who grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma, but had been living in Switzerland at the time of his death. In a statement shared by the festival Sunday night, officials note that rescuers had to initially “leave [Mitchell] to allow the structure to fall and provide for rescuer safety before they could go back into the flames to extract Aaron from the debris.”

Despite the weight of this tragedy, Burning Man organizers said that they “still plan to hold the Nevada festival’s famed temple burning event,” even under such horrific circumstances. Though they had “cancelled burns through noon Sunday,” the festival plans to proceed with the 8 pm temple burn, which “signals the end of the nine-day festival.”

Burning Man ends Monday.

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