Heavy Rain Douses Burning Man Festival -- Update

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Jim Carlton

Rainstorms have prompted the temporary closure of the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, putting a damper on the annual convergence of more than 50,000 hippies and hipsters--many from Silicon Valley.

Officials of Black Rock City LLC, which hosts the normally dust-choked revelry, asked state and local law enforcement Monday to turn away so-called Burners after storms drenched its location on a playa 110 miles northeast of Reno. A statement posted on Facebook attributed the shutdown to undrivable conditions on what would have been opening day of the event, which was set to end Sept. 1.

"Drivers are being instructed to find a safe location to park until the expected reopening of the event on Tuesday," Burning Man said in the statement.

Jim Graham, a Burning Man spokesman, said late Monday the festival would reopen at 6 a.m. Tuesday, after the condition of the makeshift city's roads were assessed.

Some Burners vented their frustrations on social media. "Each day I'm stuck in Reno the selfie gets progressively more angry," wrote 28-year-old Aaron Hoffmeyer, a technology analyst from San Francisco, in posting a mockingly stern expression of himself on Twitter.

Other techies poked a little fun. "Extinguished Man," Alexia Tsotsis, co-editor of the technology news site Tech Crunch, termed the festival on Twitter.

Burners include some of the elite of the tech world, with entire camps populated by employees and executives from companies such as Facebook Inc., whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been an attendee. They build elaborate art sculptures and drive unusual vehicles in a bash that ends after the ceremonial burning of a giant wooden effigy--the burning man.

The festival originated in 1986 with just 20 people attending on a San Francisco beach. As it grew, it moved in 1991 to the Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nev., and has been held there ever since. The festival, often plagued by massive dust storms, has grown so big in recent years that it draws a large presence of law enforcement, and mileslong traffic jams.

Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com

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This article appears in: News Headlines

Referenced Stocks: FB

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