Thousands of attendees of the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert faced the prospect of more rain on Sunday after a stretch of heavy precipitation that has tested the resolve of its free-spirited participants as most have been stuck at the site and forced to conserve food and water.
The police on Sunday were investigating the death of one person at the event, although it was unclear what the cause was. The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the family of the victim had been notified, but that no further information was available.
Burning Man, a weeklong festival that has been around since the 1980s, is a self-described “community and global cultural movement” that is premised on countercultural principles, such as radical self-expression.
The festival is held in Black Rock City, a temporary community that pops up each year in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada, a vast space known during the event as “the playa.” The event has been known to draw thousands of people, and it has been popularized over the years by a steady stream of celebrity and mogul attendees. It features art installations and culminates with the burning of a giant sculpture of a man, giving it its name.
The makeshift town hosts more than 70,000 people every year and is a three-hour drive from the nearest airport, which is more than 100 miles away in Reno. This year’s event began on Aug. 27 and was scheduled to end Monday.
Heavy rains began on Friday night, with the festival site receiving more than half an inch of rain overnight, organizers said. A flood watch and a flood advisory were in effect on Sunday morning for portions of north-central and northwest Nevada.
In other areas of Nevada, such as Las Vegas, fast-moving thunderstorms and flash flooding swept across the region over the weekend, with heavy flooding reported on the Las Vegas Strip, causing at least one driver to be rescued from a car.
On Saturday, Burning Man festival organizers directed the attendees to shelter in place as more precipitation pummeled the area. On Sunday, access to the site remained closed to vehicles, and no driving was permitted on the festival grounds except for emergency services. Officials advised attendees to conserve food and water and to shelter in a warm space.
In a statement on Saturday, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said that some vehicles had been able to leave the site, though those vehicles “caused damage to the playa surface, and it is not recommended at this time.”
Some festival attendees hiked miles on foot in the mud to reach main roads to hitch a ride away from the festival grounds.
On social media, Burning Man attendees have posted videos and photos of themselves trudging through the thick desert mud.
On Saturday night, some festivalgoers were going barefoot or wearing Ziploc bags on their feet, said an attendee, Angie Peacock, 44, in a phone interview. Even as the weather temporarily halted some partying, Ms. Peacock said, the spirit of the festival was still on display.
Several big camps opened up their kitchens and dining tents to strangers. One of them served a large breakfast of eggs, hash browns and salad to its 80 members and a dozen stragglers huddled on benches.
Still, there was some anxiety among the people, Ms. Peacock said. Her camp, named Reverbia, has been rationing food by making soups and stews. On Saturday, she ate beef chili with tortilla chips and drank coffee.
But the situation was not extremely dire, she said: “We’re not going to let anyone starve, you know? This is not ‘Hunger Games.’”
On Saturday night, neon lights were still visible across the makeshift city, and the raves were continuing as usual.
“It’s lit up,” Ms. Peacock said, looking out. “It’s beautiful.”
Officials have not yet said when access to and from the event will reopen, and it is not immediately known when the attendees will be able to leave. Festival organizers said there was a chance that late on Monday it would be possible to leave in vehicles and R.V.s, but only if conditions allow.
Organizers also said that they would have buses in Gerlach, a small town near the festival, to drive people to Reno.
“Burning Man is a community of people who are prepared to support one another,” the festival organizers said. “We have come here knowing this is a place where we bring everything we need to survive. It is because of this that we are all well-prepared for a weather event like this.”
Amanda Holpuch and Finn-Olaf Jones contributed reporting.