07/16/2014 01:14 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2014

Man Dies By Jumping Into Element 11 Festival Bonfire

An attendee of a Burning Man-style event in Utah killed himself by jumping into a towering bonfire on Saturday night in front of hundreds of spectators.

The man, identified by police as 30-year-old Christopher Wallace, slipped past security that separated the crowd from the 3-story work of art intentionally set ablaze about half an hour earlier, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Burners at the sold-out Element 11 festival who witnessed Wallace's suicide said he danced for a few seconds before heaving himself into the raging flames, according to KUTV. His hand rose in the fire before dying, witnesses said.

Others said he'd told them earlier in the day that he planned to run into fire as the giant effigy based on a character from the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" burned to the ground.

Officials said people yelled at Wallace to stop and tried to grab him, but that he acted too quickly.

Firefighters on hand in the desert west of Salt Lake City unsuccessfully attempted to put out the fire to rescue Wallace. Crews said the bonfire's temperature reached 2,000 degrees, according to the Associated Press.

Organizers of Element 11, an offshoot of the annual Burning Man event in Nevada, released a statement to TV station Fox 13.

"This is a deeply upsetting event with tragic results, our hearts go out to the Utah community and the attendees of Element 11. This is a tragic event and we struggle to respond to it we ask for your patience while we find the appropriate resources but please know we are committed to supporting those who are affected by this event in the best way we can.”

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