Horror at Burning Man festival as man dies after running into flames
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A man has died after sprinting into the flames at the Burning Man festival in the US, horrifying onlookers and security who tried to stop him.
To get to the fire, the man had to run through a human-chain of security officers. Images show a firefighter trying to catch the man before he ran into the burning 15m-tall effigy, called The Man. The inferno is one of the highlights of the festival, which takes place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, drawing crowds of 70,000 from all over the world.
Organisers issued a statement saying: "Approximately 10.30pm Saturday evening [5.30pm Sunday, NZ time], a male participant at the annual Burning Man event in Northern Nevada broke through a safety perimeter and into into a fire. Black Rock City fire personnel rescued him from the fire."
"The individual was treated on scene, transported to the on-site medical facility and airlifted to a burn center [sic]."
On Monday morning (NZ time), Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said the man, 41-year-old Aaron Joel Mitchell, had died from his injuries.
Mitchell died hours later at the UC Davis hospital burn centre in California.
Allen said doctors confirmed Mitchell wasn't under the influence of alcohol, but a toxicology report was pending.
Mitchell was a US citizen who had a home in Oklahoma but apparently was living in Switzerland with his wife, the sheriff's office said.
Festival organisers are also offering emotional support counselling on site, saying in a statement: "Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep."
There have been injuries reported before but Allen said this was the first fatality he was aware of in his 15 years with the county.
Investigators are having a hard time getting information as festival-goers leave the site for their homes, the law enforcement agency said.
The nine-day Burning Man event culminates with the burning of the towering effigy made of wood. Attendees in the past have tried to run into the flames as a symbol of rebirth.
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