Fact Check: Video of Jeep In Mud Was Published Before 2023 Burning Man Festival -- No National Disaster Declared

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
 Fact Check: Video of Jeep In Mud Was Published Before 2023 Burning Man Festival -- No National Disaster Declared Video Predates

Is this video showing a Jeep partially buried in the mud from the 2023 Burning Man gathering, and was that event "declared a national disaster"? No, that's not true: The online presence of the video predates the 2023 Burning Man gathering by at least a week, and there was no national disaster declaration stemming from Burning Man.

The claim appeared in a post on Instagram on September 3, 2023 (archived here). The post featured a video of a Jeep partly buried in mud with text over the footage saying "Someone who tried to escape Burning Man." The caption of the post read:

Burning Man declared a national disaster.
New YouTube video on this coming up. More on my website: pleiadianhealer.com
#burningman #burningman2023 #blackrockcity #blackrock #desert

This is how the post looked on Instagram at the time of writing:

burning man jeep IG post.png
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Sep 7 19:13:31 2023 UTC)

Part of the claim seemed to originate from a video (archived here) posted to TikTok on September 3, 2023. However, that video lacked the "declared a national disaster" portion of the claim.

Lead Stories took a screenshot of the video and used it to search for the original video. We used Google, TinEye and Yandex. The earliest appearance of the video we found was a post (archived here) published on Instagram on August 15, 2023. The post had no caption and provided no context about where and when the video was taken.

This year's Burning Man began on August 27, 2023. More than a half-inch of rain fell on the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where the gathering is held. The rain resulted in muddy and flooded conditions that led to road closures. Attendees were stuck at the site of the gathering until the roads were opened again on September 4, 2023. Many social media users posted videos that they claimed showed footage of the aftermath of the flooding.

However, the gathering was not "declared a national disaster." The Federal Emergency Management Agency does have a system in place called the National Disaster Recovery Framework, but it is used to carry out "effective recovery support to disaster-impacted states, tribes, territorial and local jurisdictions." At the time of writing, FEMA has not classified the weather conditions that affected Burning Man a declared disaster.

Lead Stories also debunked a claim that there was an ebola outbreak at the 2023 Burning Man gathering.

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