Man Arrested in Torching of Burning Man Effigy

A San Francisco man was arrested early Tuesday after allegedly burning the namesake effigy of the Burning Man counterculture festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert four days early.

Paul Addis, 35, of San Francisco, was booked into the Pershing County jail on suspicion of arson and illegal possession of fireworks, according to the sheriff's department. No other details were immediately available, the department said. Addis remained in custody midday Tuesday.

Traditionally, the approximately 40-foot tall wooden structure gets set ablaze on Saturday, the ceremonial climax of the annual event.

The festival's in-house fire department, the Black Rock City Emergency Services Department, extinguished the 2:58 a.m. fire, according to a statement posted on the Burning Man Web site. The fire also damaged part of the Green Man Pavilion, the exhibition space on which the figure was perched, the statement said.

No injuries were reported, the statement said.

Organizers of the art, music and performance festival, which draws thousands of people to the remote northern Nevada desert, said the gathering that started Monday would go on as planned. They said it would take about two days to repair the structure, which was still standing.

"We have the means and the will. The event continues on schedule, and the man will burn on Saturday night," Andie Grace, a Burning Man spokeswoman said via email.

Organizers said "there has been no discussion of motive" in the incident.

The festival began in 1986 at San Francisco's Baker Beach, and was moved to the Black Rock Desert in 1990. That year, the effigy was accidentally cut up with a chain saw and had to be reassembled before the ritual burning, Grace said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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