This year’s Burning Man — the wild festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert — culminated on the night of September 4.
The festival was founded with the principle of “leave no trace,” meaning everything that’s brought to the festival must be taken home or destroyed when it ends.
Burning Man has a traditional grand finale: the ritual burning of a tall statue of a man (which gives the fest its name). But after that’s over, other structures are also given over to fire, including a massive wooden temple structure, different iterations of which have been assembled during the festival most years.
Burning Man’s official livestream captured the moments when the giant building went up in flames. Starting around the 12-minute mark, volunteers ignite the temple’s center, and the fire eventually swells into a massive bonfire.
Hand-built by sculptor David Best and his crew, this year’s 2,500-square-foot, wooden temple was 100 feet tall. Best is well known for the Burning Man temples he creates — he has made eight of them since 2000.
This year’s extravagant temple featured a large altar, plenty of sitting room, and a huge chandelier that hung from its ceiling. Around a courtyard were eight altars for people to “express their emotions, reflect on the losses of friends and family members, and celebrate the lives of people around them,” the temple crew wrote.
After the temple burned to the ground, the festival’s some 70,000 participants packed up and left the desert — a departure surge known as “the exodus.”