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Burning Man Death
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2013, file photo, the "Man" burns on the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man near Gerlach, Nev. A Nevada sheriff says the man who ran into the flames at the Burning Man festival's signature burning ceremony has died. Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen identified the man as Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, who died Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, morning at the UC Davis hospital burn center in California. (Andy Barron/Reno Gazette-Journal, File via AP)

Authorities are investigating the death of a Burning Man festival-goer


Authorities are investigating the death of a Burning Man attendee who ran into a giant, wooden effigy that was set on fire during the festival's signature ceremony.

Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, broke through a two-layer security perimeter during the event Saturday night. Nevada's Pershing County Sheriff's Office said attempts to rescue Mitchell were hampered because part of the structure was falling while they were trying reach him.

"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," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Sheriff Jerry Allen said about 50,000 people were present when firefighters pulled Mitchell from the fire. Mitchell was then airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, where he died Sunday morning.

Doctors told police Mitchell wasn't under the influence of alcohol when the incident occurred. A toxicology report is still pending.

"We don't know if it was intentional on his part or if it was just kind of induced by drugs. We're not sure of that yet," Allen said.

Burning Man released a statement Sunday saying it had canceled all scheduled burns through noon on Sunday but would go ahead with the Temple burn at 8 p.m.

Event organizers also offered on-site emotional support counseling.

"Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep," organizers said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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