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Burning Man 'Exodus' Expected Monday as Mud Dries Up and Roads Reopen

Organizers predict a 'exodus' on Monday afternoon after heavy rains hampered the annual event

<p>JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty</p>  Attendees walk through a muddy desert plain on September 2, 2023, after heavy rains turned the annual Burning Man festival site in Nevada

JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty

Attendees walk through a muddy desert plain on September 2, 2023, after heavy rains turned the annual Burning Man festival site in Nevada's Black Rock desert into a mud pit.

Thousands of people attending the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert are expected to be able to leave Monday afternoon, organizers said Monday, after heavy rains began flooding the area in northern Nevada and a death was reported.

Festival organizers told partygoers on X, formerly known as Twitter, Monday morning that "Gate Road remains too wet & muddy for most vehicles to safely navigate out of BRC this morning, but is drying," adding that "Exodus likely to begin around noon today, Monday 9/4."

The update comes after attendees were advised on Saturday to "conserve food, water, and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space," with access to and from the Black Rock Desert event closed due to the rainstorms that began on Friday.

Related: Death Investigated at Burning Man During Storms That Have Left Thousands Stuck in Desert

CNN reported the area received two to three months' worth of rain — up to 0.8 inches — in just 24 hours between Friday and Saturday morning.

Then a death reported at the event led organizers to decide to close the festival to vehicles, according to the Associated Press.

The Pershing County Sheriff's Office confirmed the fatality with PEOPLE on Monday, but there is no additional information at this time. An investigation is ongoing.

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The Burning Man website describes the city as "a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance" that thousands of festivalgoers form every year. Travel Nevada notes that more than 70,000 people attend Burning Man annually.

Among those caught up in the chaos was model Kelly Gale, who documented her journey out of the desert by foot with her actor fiancé Joel Kinnaman. Several other festivalgoers also hiked for miles to exit the area, per CNN.

Gale, 28, shared images to her Instagram Story of her crew walking through the mud with protective bags over their shoes as they trekked on out. "Getting to safety," she wrote alongside one image before adding, "Every year this place is interesting."

Related: Remains of Idaho Hiker Found 7 Years After He Disappeared: 'Nobody Had Any Idea He Was Off the Trail Like That'

After getting back home, Gale explained why she left the event early. "Half of us stayed and half of us left," she wrote of her camp. "Felt so difficult leaving but the good thing was making sure there would be enough food and water for those who stayed. Paying for everyone to stay safe and get out safe."

A few celebrities, including Diplo and Chris Rock, faced the same challenges at the festival. The 44-year-old DJ tweeted that he "walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with Chris Rock and a fan picked us up." He also shared a clip of himself and the comedian, 58, riding with him and others in the back of a truck on their way out.

Sunday evening, The New York Times reported the mood at the festival had become calmer than Saturday, and event-goers were walking around the site and using plastic bags over their shoes to protect them from the thick mud.

The annual burning of a towering wooden effigy shaped like a man, which had been postponed twice due to inclement weather, would happen Monday night, the Times reported.

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