Burning Man is an annual event in the last week of August (through Labor Day) in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada.
Begun in 1986, the event was capped at 50,000 attendees in 2011 after a phenomenal attendance by 51,515 people in 2010 — all amidst blowing sand, extreme daytime heat, porta toilets, and no showers.
Though it is advertised as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance” — whatever all that means — Burning Man has overt pagan tones in its ritual burning of a gigantic wooden human figure on the event’s last evening (see pic below).
Utah has a copycat Burning Man called Element 11.
Christine McCarthy reports for KUTV that at Element 11 last Saturday (July 13) night at about 11 p.m., a festival-goer ran into the blazing bonfire and immolated himself.
The theme for this year’s sold-out Element 11 is “Into the Wild” — whatever that means.
A photographer captured a video of the incident (go to KUTV for the video), showing a man making his way through a crowd of event-goers and a circle of security personnel before spinning around, dancing, and then running into the
Festival-goer Daisey McDonald said, “He was running out there. He was dancing around a little bit, and then all of a sudden he jumped into it. It’s like he didn’t even know it was fire. The whole time I was thinking, ‘He’s going to walk out, he’s going to be okay.'”
Each night of Element 11, a different, large structure is burned as a crowd gathers. J.P. Bernier, the director of safety volunteers for the event, said plenty of safety officials were present: “The fire was intentional, and it was planned. A great deal of preparation and care goes into the constructing of the effigy we burn in ceremonial fashion with attendance by Grantsville fire. We have a perimeter of safety officials that surround the fire. It was a very tragic event. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim.”
Police later identified the self-immolator as 30-year-old John Christopher Wallace of Salt Lake City. According to the police, he had told people earlier in the day of his intentions to kill himself by jumping in the fire which became his funeral pyre.
Grantsville police are investigating what led up to Wallace’s suicide.
A former co-worker of Wallace, who calls him/herself Benthewicked, wrote on on Reddit that Wallace was a copy-editor.
According to an account in the Salt Lake Tribune, Wallace had taken the hallucinogenic LSD-like mescaline before he ran full speed into the fire.
H/t FOTM’s CSM