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Some Burning Man attendees leave despite shelter-in-place order

Many Burning Man attendees, known as “Burners,” packed up and drove away from Black Rock City Friday. Others left on foot, walking miles in the mud to catch a ride home. 

“It’s about 1.8 inches of rain,” said Maria Gretchnykh, a Burning Man airport employee, “so it’s about six inches of mud. You can’t walk, you can’t drive. The cars are sinking.”

Those Burners who left  made the decision despite the wet, muddy conditions and a shelter-in-place order from event organizers. They’re determined to get home any way they can. Some are going by car. 

“They say the gates are closed, but I’ve got a four-wheel drive car,” said Marin County resident Joe Harrington. “And I’m going to try and make it out.”

Others are choosing to walk out. 

“We ended up having to leave our truck and trailer there, so we can make it back into town to our other kids,” said Kenny Wright. “We walked to the front gate, all the way across the playa. Had to put bags on our feet to make it across a couple rivers. But we made it to the front gate, hitchhiked here to Gerlach. And now we’re gonna wait for our ride that’s coming to pick us up.” 

The eight day art and music festival in Black Rock Desert was scheduled to clear out on Monday before heavy rain changed everything. People may still be able to leave Monday morning, according to event organizers, weather permitting. 

“I’m mostly worried about having to sit in line to get out of here with 70,000 people tomorrow,” said Harrington. 

On Sunday, Burners were doing their best to stay positive in an uncertain situation. One campsite, called the Waffle House, kept people fed and entertained Sunday. 

“They’re serving really good waffles,” said Maria Vilotte, who is from Argentina. “There’s music on, people trying to still have fun, and keep calm, and go with the vibe.”

The ceremonial burning of the wooden man effigy, which traditionally marks the grand finale of Burning Man, was canceled Sunday due to the rain and muddy conditions. 

Instead, the ceremony is planned to happen Monday night.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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