Death Investigated at Burning Man During Storms That Have Left Thousands Stuck in Desert

The Pershing County Sheriff's Office reportedly revealed that a death at the festival is under investigation

<p>JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty</p> Site of Burning Man festival in Nevada


Site of Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock desert

Authorities are investigating a death at Burning Man after extreme rainfall in northern Nevada has taken a toll on the annual event.

The local Pershing County Sheriff's Office is investigating a death at the festival that happened "during this rain event," according to NBC News. CNN has also reported the news.

"As this death is still under investigation, there is no further information available at this time," the office told NBC News in a statement. The Pershing County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for additional information on Sunday.

The revelation of a death investigation comes shortly after thousands of Burning Man attendees were advised to “conserve food, water and fuel and shelter in a warm, safe space” in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada as a result of rainstorms that began Friday.

The event, which was scheduled to take place from Aug. 27 through Sept. 4, had its entrance at the event's Black Rock City closed off due to flooding.

Related: Thousands Stuck at Burning Man Due to Extreme Rain Told to ‘Conserve Food, Water and Fuel’

Among those caught up in the chaos was model Kelly Gale, who documented her journey out of the desert by foot with her actor fiancé Joel Kinnaman. Several other festivalgoers also hiked for miles to exit the area, per CNN, which notes that the worst of Sunday's rainfall is expected between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time.

Gale, 28, shared images to her Instagram Story of her crew walking through the mud with protective bags over their shoes as they trekked on out. "Getting to safety," she wrote alongside one image before adding, "Every year this place is interesting."

After getting back home, Gale explained why she left the event early. "Half of us stayed and half of us left," she wrote of her camp. "Felt so difficult leaving but the good thing was making sure there would be enough food and water for those who stayed. Paying for everyone to stay safe and get out safe."

As previously reported, organizers told festival-goers on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the gate and airport leaving Black Rock City was closed and that driving was not permitted "except [for] emergency vehicles.”

<p>Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty</p> Site of Burning Man festival in 2000

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty

Site of Burning Man festival in 2000

Organizers added that access to Black Rock City was "closed for the remainder of the event." The Burning Man website describes the city as “a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance" that thousands of festivalgoers form every year. Travel Nevada notes that more than 70,000 people attend Burning Man annually.

A few celebrities, including Diplo and Chris Rock, faced the same challenges at the festival. The 44-year-old DJ tweeted that he “walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with Chris Rock and a fan picked us up.” He also shared a clip of himself and the comedian, 58, riding with him and others in the back of a truck on their way out.

On Sunday morning, organizers shared another update via what it calls its 2023 Wet Playa Survival Guide.

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"As of 9 a.m. Sunday, the roads remain too wet and muddy to officially open them for Exodus. There is also an uncertain weather front approaching Black Rock City," it noted. "Some vehicles with 4WD and all-terrain tires are able to navigate the mud and are successfully leaving. But we are seeing most other types of vehicles that try to depart getting stuck in the wet mud which hampers everyone’s Exodus."

"Please do NOT drive at this time," the update continued. "Road conditions differ based on the neighborhood. We will update you on the driving ban after this weather front has left the area."

Organizers are planning to "burn the man" — a.k.a. commence the culminating ceremony that ends in the burning of a wooden figure — on Sunday at 9:30 p.m.

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