Storm temporarily closes gates to Burning Man

Burners have had their desert flame put out by rain – temporarily.

Burning Man officials announced Monday on Twitter that they closed gates to the event until “midday Tuesday due to rain and standing water.” The event was scheduled to begin Monday and run through Sept. 1.

Black Rock City, the northwest Nevada venue that hosts the weeklong arts and music festival annually, was struck with heavy rain Sunday evening. Event organizers have released information about the gate closures through a series of tweets.

Burning Man representatives said on Twitter that they were turning back cars once they got to Wadsworth, Nev., and at the gates. Wadsworth is where many attendees exit Interstate 80 to head north to Black Rock City.

The Nevada Highway Patrol and other agencies are assisting with the temporary holding of Burning Man attendees, according to a press release from Nevada Highway Patrol. The agency requests that participants don’t travel out to Black Rock City until notified that roads are open.

As of Monday night, Nevada Highway Patrol had not announced when it would reopen the road because the status depends on weather conditions.

Hundreds of Burning Man attendees, or “burners,” checked into Reno hotels every hour on Monday, said Chris Baum, president and CEO of Reno-Tahoe U.S.A. Hotels and nightclubs are accommodating Burning Man attendees with discounted room prices and free events.

“There’s a good availability at the big hotels around town,” Baum said. “We’ve been able to accommodate every person who needs to stay until they can get up to the playa.”

Sacramentan Anastasia DeSilva, 43, set up her temporary camp along a long row of hundreds of other camps on the side of the road outside the venue’s gates, she said in a phone interview. DeSilva had been there since 6:30 a.m. Monday. She said Monday afternoon that the rain had stopped but muddy desert sand remained.

DeSilva said that “people are trying to stay positive” despite the bump on the road to Burning Man.

She saw cars and camps on the road for miles, DeSilva said. Attendees are calling it the “Yellow Line Camp,” referring to the center stripe, and have kept themselves occupied by exploring the desert, visiting other burner camps, bicycling and going on hikes.

“If you’ve got to be in line somewhere, I guess this is the place to be,” she said.

Sacramento artist Kristin Hoard, 52, said she’s never been rained out of the festival, but uncertainty is part of the festival experience.

“I’ve been seven times, so I know stuff happens and it’s all part of the experience,” Hoard said. “I’m trying to tell the newbies that I’m (going) with, ‘You’re at Burning Man right now – this is all part of the process you go through. You never know what could happen.’ ”

The event is expected to attract 70,000 attendees this year.

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