SAN FRANCISCO: Larry Harvey, whose whimsical decision to erect a giant wooden figure and then burn it to the ground led to the popular, long-running counterculture celebration known as “Burning Man,” has died. He was 70.

Harvey died Saturday morning at a hospital in San Francisco, surrounded by family, Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell said. The cause was not immediately known, but he had a stroke earlier this month.

Longtime friend Stuart Mangrum posted on the organization’s website that Harvey did not believe in “any sort of existence” after death.

“Now that he’s gone, let’s take the liberty of contradicting him, and keep his memory alive in our hearts, our thoughts, and our actions,” Mangrum wrote. “As he would have wished it, let us always Burn the Man.”

Burning Man takes place annually the week before Labor Day in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The weeklong festival attracts some 70,000 people who pay anywhere from $425 to $1,200 a ticket to travel to a dry lake bed 100 miles east of Reno, where temperatures can routinely reach 100 degrees.

On the gathering’s penultimate day, the giant effigy — or Man as it is known — is set ablaze during a raucous, joyful celebration.