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Woodstock '99 Ends In Chaos

After almost 72 hours of peace and love, Woodstock '99 ended in blazing chaos Sunday night as hundreds of concert goers turned into vandals, starting fires and looting.

What began as scattered bonfires toward the end of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' festival-closing set escalated into several infernos that took hours to contain.

State police said the situation inside the venue had been stabilized by early Monday, and most of the fires had been extinguished. Woodstock officials were not immediately available for comment.

Launch Interactive Woodstock99 in Photographs

No information was available on whether there were any injuries or arrests. Police said most of the concert goers had been herded off the grounds.

The three-day concert climaxed into a frenzy about a quarter mile from the main stage when several concertgoers set fire to 12 parked tractor-trailers.

Several people pulled cases of soda and merchandise from the trucks and fed the flames with debris. Others toppled light stands and speaker towers, while another group tried to destroy a radio station truck.

Â"These kids are animals. It should never have gotten this far,Â" said Ruth Mahorn, 36, of Binghamton, as she walked quickly away from the disturbance with her friends.

Â"They're jerks,Â" said Karen Thomas, 24, of Massachusetts. Â"It's been great all weekend. People were cool, and now this is how people will remember Woodstock.Â"

Hundreds of state troopers in riot gear moved in to protect other vendors' booths. County deputies and city police were deployed to protect other areas of the former Griffiss Air Force Base, now a business and technolog park.

Earlier in the day, many campers were already pulling up stakes and stashing gear in their cars Sunday morning in hopes of making a quick getaway once their favorite band finished up, but it didn't look promising.

Â"We all have got to work in the morning,Â" said Mara Kugler of Baldwin, N.Y., a sleeping bag tucked under her arm. Â"It's been a long week, but worth it.Â"

State police said that by late afternoon more than 70,000 people had departed with few delays. The exodus was expected to take up to a day since more than 225,000 packed the site.

By afternoon, the New York State Thruway was full with concert goers, but traffic was moving at a steady clip. Rest areas along the Thruway were jammed, and police were directing traffic through rest area parking lots.

Slightly over 100 people decided early Sunday that stripping was better than grabbing an extra hour or two of sleep and turned out for a massive nude photo shoot as a brilliant orange sun began to light up the sky. Flyers announcing the escapade were circulated over the weekend by photographer Spencer Tunick, who is well known for his photos of nudes in public places.

Â"I just want to see the expressions that the photos could bring for decades to come,Â" said Sarah Warner of Allston, Mass. Â"Picture your kid going, 'Grandma, was that you? You were hot!'Â"

Things turned somewhat ugly in the mosh pit Saturday night while Limp Bizkit was playing. A mob of more than 200 threw bottles, smashed a barricade and nearly trampled sound system components. One woman suffered a serious head cut from a thrown bottle.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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