Federal officials shut down the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert on Saturday after torrential rain turned the site of the annual arts and music event into a treacherous, muddy pit and prompted organizers of more than 73,000 attendees to seek shelter.
Those who went to the festival this weekend were told to “turn around and go home” by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, the public agency that manages the land hosting the event.
“Rain over the past 24 hours has created a situation that has necessitated a complete halt to vehicle movement on the playa,” the BLM said in a statement announcing the closure of access roads.
“More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa.”
Earlier, organizers had told attendees to conserve food and water, and banned vehicles from the streets as the Burners, as the attendees are known, spent the night huddled in tents and campers covered in mud.
The temperatures fell below 50 °C US TODAY.
“Driving is not permitted on Playa, with the exception of emergency vehicles,” organizers said in a statement at 5 a.m. Saturday.
“If you’re in (Black Rock City), please protect yourself in place and stay safe.”
They added separately: “If you are in BRC, save food and water and seek a warm place.”
Participants are expected to provide their own food, water and shelter for the duration of the event.
Bad weather caused by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary also forced the closure of a small airport and halted cleaning services for the thousands of portable toilets used by Burning Man attendees, according to the newspaper.
The newspaper reported that the storm had left many people without mobile phone connections.
Photos showing mud-splattered vehicles and roads riddled with deep, muddy puddles drew comparisons to the ill-fated 2017 Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, where organizer Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud and the use of telegrams pleaded guilty to using forged documents to defraud investors out of $26 million.
The Burning Man event, which began on August 27th, is scheduled to end on Monday with a mass march called the Exodus.