Burning Man Staffer Dies on Site of Annual Festival

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

A Nevada man helping to prepare for the temporary Burning Man metropolis died Wednesday on the site of the annual art and music festival, according to event organizers and police.

Scott "Spoono" Stephenson, a ten-year Burning Man Department of Public Works employee, died of natural causes overnight in the Black Rock Desert, according to a statement on the Burning Man website. The desert, which is about 150 miles north of Reno, will transform into the Burning Man "Black Rock City" on Aug. 31.

Scott "Spoono" Stephenson was a ten-year Burning Man Department of Public Works employeee.Marnee Benson

Pershing County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Stephens told NBC News that a man died on the site, but declined to identify him and said the cause of death was under investigation.

Related: Burning Man Festival: Swarms of Bugs Infest Site of Annual Event

Stephenson, who was in his late 50s, was a ten-year staffer with Burning Man and participated in various charities that are affiliated with Burning Man, according to the organization's statement.

"His passing will have an enormous impact on the Burning Man community," the statement said. "Spoono embodied the best of Burning Man values and culture. He was generous to a fault, giving all that he had to the community he loved. He will be missed by all who knew him."

Stephenson had been helping to construct Black Rock City since April, according to Burning Man organizers, who said it was "the city he loved most."

Burning man is a weeklong communal art installation event in which participants arrive with everything they need to survive for the duration. Nearly 66,000 people attended last year, according to the Burning Man website.