To many, Burning Man’s iconic towering effigy is a symbol of rebirth, a new chapter that begins when the 40-foot man of wood crumbles to the ground in a fiery blaze. To some, the fuckin UGE fire is seemingly part of their spiritual journey, as many have tried to reach the flames within so they can be reborn, and probably win a few cool guy points in the process.
Unfortunately, running into a fire the size of a two story building doesn’t always go well, and this past Sunday a bloke died after bursting through two lines of security guards and rushing into the blaze.
At around 10:30 pm on Sunday, Aaron Joel Mitchell broke through the human-perimeter set up by security personnel before collapsing amongst the embers. He was then rescued by a team of firefighters and then airlifted to the hospital.
Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said that the man, surprisingly, wasn’t under the influence of alcohol at the time, but a full toxicology was expected as part of the investigation.
Allen also that it’s a problem that has plagued the festival for a while, so much so that they had to have their own rangers stage a human-chain just so people can’t access the fire. Allen said this is the first time that anyone’s gotten through, and the first fatality that he was aware of in 15 years.
“People try to run into the fire as part of their spiritual portion of Burning Man,” Allen said. “The significance of the man burning, it’s just kind of a rebirth, they burn the man to the ground, a new chapter has started, it’s part of their tenants of radical self-expression.”
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