By Jennifer Dobner
SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) – Police in Utah are investigating after a man killed himself by jumping into a 30-foot (9-meter) bonfire during an arts and culture festival on the weekend in the desert west of Salt Lake City, local media reported.
More than 1,000 people were watching as the man ran past safety barriers and leapt into the blaze on Saturday night at the Element 11 event, which has ties to the Burning Man festival held each year in northern Nevada.
The festivities include the construction of giant wooden models, which are then torched. Video taken by a spectator showed the man running into the flames, followed by screams and shrieks as onlookers took in what had happened.
Grantsville Police Lieutenant Steve Barrett told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper that friends of the 30-year-old said he told him he planned to kill himself by running into the burning effigy, which was shaped like a character from the children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
He said security officers at the event, Grantsville firefighters, and individuals in the crowd had been unable to stop the man jumping in, nor rescue him after had.
Police did not respond to messages seeking comment. Neither did event organizers, but one told local broadcaster Fox13 that the festival would re-evaluate its security procedures following the incident.
(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)
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