Burning Man revellers begin desert departure after intense rainfall

Waiting time to exit is 'seven hours and climbing', organisers say

The centre camp at the Burning Man festival in Nevada. AP
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Hundreds of vehicles have departed the Burning Man festival grounds in Nevada after a summer storm left tens of thousands of revellers stranded in the desert.

Event organisers on Monday said a driving ban had been lifted and “exodus operations” had begun in the makeshift Black Rock City.

Organisers advised festival-goers to depart the grounds on Tuesday due to backed-up traffic. The wait time to leave Black Rock City was “seven hours and climbing” as of Monday night.

“Cook that last tasty, communal meal. There’s a lot of traffic on Gate Road right now,” the event said.

“You might be much happier hanging out in camp with your friends than sitting in a static line of cars for many hours. Wake up refreshed on Tuesday and hit the road then.”

About 64,000 people remained on site as of noon on Monday.

The driving ban was imposed before the traditional burning of a wooden effigy in the shape of a man and a wood temple structure. The fires were postponed after more than 1.3cm of rain fell in the desert on Friday night, causing flooding and muddy conditions.

Event organisers said the male effigy would burn on Monday night and that “The Chapel of Babel” will burn at midnight on Tuesday. The temple structure was scheduled to be burnt on Tuesday night.

Scott London, a photographer from Southern California, told AP that the driving limitations offered a new perspective on the event.

“We are a little bit dirty and muddy, but spirits are high. The party still going,” he said.

Burning Man is a week-long event that draws tens of thousands of people for camping and performances. The annual event is focused on community, self-reliance and preservation.

Burning Man revellers build the temporary Black Rock City in the Nevada desert every year and are expected to collaborate and be inclusive.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 12:55 PM