Image Credit: Rissa Clayton Via Burners.me
Multiple news outlets are reporting that a man attending the Element11 Festival in Utah has died after throwing himself into a bonfire. Element11 is an annual regional event for the larger Burning Man Festival which takes place in the Nevada desert. Authorities and witnesses are saying that on Saturday night the man, who has not yet been identified, broke through a safety perimeter and jumped into the flames of a planned burning effigy as many looked on. Some workers and firefighters reportedly chased after the man, but were unable to save him. Utah Burners, speaking for the festival, issued the following statement:
On behalf of Element 11 – our official statement: We acknowledge there was indeed a fatality last night at Element 11 (Utah’s regional). This is a deeply upsetting event with tragic results. Our hearts go out to the Utah community and to the attendees of Element 11. This is a tragic event, and we struggle to respond to it. We ask for your patience while we find the appropriate resources, but please know that we are committed to supporting those affected by this event in the best way we can.
Burners.me, a website dedicated to Burning Man culture, posted the following first hand accounts:
Burner Rissa: I watched this entire tragic event as it happened. He full on ran and jumped into the fire. Several ppl were running after him trying to stop him. But unfortunately they were not quick enough. It was pretty devastating to watch. My heart goes out to his family for the loss. The whole thing is stuck in my mind. I couldn’t ever imagine being a place in the mind that his actions were the resolution…I still can’t believe that I watched the whole thing. The images of his hand reaching up through the flames will stick with me for a long time. I still am having a hard time believing that this was real… Burner Michael: This was my first visit to E11, and to Bonnevlle Seabase, a beautiful location for a lovely joyful event. I was resting my legs on a trailer at about 9o’clock as Sparky burned, the leaves and twigs had flashed off in to sparks and the fire was intense through all the heavy, repurposed lumber of the structure. The upper elements had mostly fallen, focussing my attention up high , then I saw the man running in from the right, Rangers running towards him; I thought first he had run round the far side, but it was immediately apparent that he had run straight in. Burner Hallie: In the midst of tragedy, we held hands as emergency vehicles arrived and helped one another cope with fear and loss of innocent revelry. While “what next” has yet to be determined, I am very touched by the commitment and rapid response that leadership, volunteers, and others provided to support a sense of community encountering and transcending crisis…I was glad to help as a first responder at the perimeter for people in shock, then as a crisis worker at Center Camp. There was a lot of healing in our community, but so much hurt. I am here for people in need.