The Burning Man festival-goer who died after running into the flames of a blazing effigy has been identified as a married 41-year-old Oklahoma man.
Aaron Joel Mitchell was rescued from the flames of the festival’s signature burning of a towering effigy Saturday but died after being airlifted to hospital.
Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen said the man ran through a human-chain of security officers at about 10.30pm Saturday during the burning of The Man event at the counter-culture festival.
The sheriff said the man was rescued by firefighters and later died at the UC Davis hospital burn center in California.
The man’s mother, Johnnye Mitchell, told the Reno Gazette-Journal it was her son’s first time at Burning Man.
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Aaron Joel Mitchell (pictured left and right) was rescued from the flames of the festival’s signature burning of a towering effigy Saturday but later died
Aaron Joel Mitchell died after evading the attempted tackles of multiple rangers and law enforcement personnel to run into the flames on Saturday night
He had to dodge a number of rangers and law enforcement personnel in order to reach the fire at the Burning Man festival
He was quickly engulfed as emergency services tried to battle their way through in an attempt to rescue him
Above a firefighter watches as Aaron Joel Mitchell (left) falls into the flames at the festival on Saturday night
Firefighters were forced to abandon their attempted rescue of a Burning Man participant (body seen at lower left rear) who ran into the flames due to dangerous situation
Pershing County Sheriff said in a statement Sunday night that rescuers had to leave Aaron because a section of the effigy was falling
Aaron, who she called Joel, grew up in McAlester, Oklahoma, but had been living in Switzerland at the time of his death.
Crowds were horrified when Aaron made a beeline for the giant wooden effigy and was engulfed by the flames on Saturday night.
He had to dodge a number of rangers and law enforcement personnel in order to reach the fire.
Festival organizers issued a statement through itswebsite to say that at ‘approximately 10.30pm Saturday evening, 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.’
Pershing County Sheriff said in a statement Sunday night that rescuers had to leave Aaron because a section of the effigy was falling.
The statement read: ‘Rescuers had to leave him to allow the structure to fall and provide for rescuer safety before they could go back into the flames to extract Aaron from the debris.’
Johnnye, who last saw her son on August 1 before he went to a solar eclipse festival in Oregon, told the Reno Gazette-Journal: ‘He’s 41, but they are always your baby.
‘He was loving and a nice person. Joel liked hiking and outdoors, running.’
Aaron, who worked in construction and had a younger brother, was pronounced dead Sunday morning. He was not under the influence of alcohol but it is not yet known whether he had taken any drugs.
Emergency personnel tried to treat the man on the scene and then rushed him to a nearby hospital’s burns unit
The Man is engulfed in flames as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gather for the annual arts and music festival to watch the wooden effigy burn
The effigy of ‘The Man’ can be seen through the flames of the structure around it at the annual Burning Man festival
The Burning Man (pictured before it was set on fire) stretched up to 50ft into the air at the festival this year
More than 70,000 people are enjoying the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles north of Reno.
The nine-day event in northern Nevada culminated with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood. Attendees have tried to run into the flames as a symbol of rebirth.
During the fiery destruction of the 50-foot-tall man, thousands of participants danced and partied at the annual event, which is held two hours north of Reno on an ancient dry lake bed.
Prior to the burn, The Man towered over the temporary city for a week. The event on Saturday night is traditionally rowdy while the event Sunday night is the subdued burning of the Temple.
The Temple is another wooden structure that has been stuffed with notes, memories and remembrances from festival goers throughout the week.
This year’s festival theme is Radical Ritual, with organizers inviting participants to celebrate ‘the ambiguous ground that lies between reverence and ridicule, faith and belief, the absurd and the stunningly sublime,’ according to the official Burning Man website.
Dozens of art installations were constructed before the end of the weekend, some made from wire, others as patterns on the ground and some as immersive experiences.
Lights shining across the temporary city as thousands of participants gather to watch the Man burn
Thousands of participants gather to watch the burning of The Man at the Burning Man festival in Nevada
The annual event is held in the Nevada desert, where 70,000 people help built and maintain a temporary city, complete with its own airport
Participants surround a burning art installation as they enjoy festivities at the Burning Man festival in Nevada