Man Dies in Fire at Burning Man Knockoff

Police say it was suicide

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 14, 2014 4:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Onlookers at a Utah Burning Man festival watched in horror Saturday as a man ran head-long into a ceremonial bonfire and never came back out, KUTV reports. It was about 11pm when Christopher Wallace, 30, broke through a barrier surrounding a burning three-story structure inspired by the book Where the Wild Things Are at the Element 11 Festival in Grantsville. "He looked like he was having a great time," an eyewitness said. "He was dancing a little bit." Then he ran into the flames "like he didn’t even know it was fire. It’s like he thought it was just a playground."

Other witnesses said his hand came up in the flames during his final moments, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Police said that Wallace had told other festival-goers that day that he would kill himself the very way he did it. But a festival spokesman said stopping him would have been an impossibility: "The nature of the fire is such that our volunteers were not able to get close enough to the fire for risk of their own safety," he told the Deseret News. "He was very fast; he was very motivated. It wasn't an accident or any act of negligence on anybody's part."

This Saturday July 12, 2014, photo, shows part of the giant wooden effigy that was set ablaze in Grantsville, Utah. Police say Salt Lake City resident Christopher Wallace died after jumping into it.
This Saturday July 12, 2014, photo, shows part of the giant wooden effigy that was set ablaze in Grantsville, Utah. Police say Salt Lake City resident Christopher Wallace died after jumping into it.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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