In a five-minute hearing, the Nye County Commissioners voted 4-0 voted in favor of the preemptive state of emergency based on information they received from the Nye County Sheriff's Department and Nye County Fire Department regarding the uncertainties surrounding the three-day event in late September.
Area 51 is popularly known as the site of rumored government studies of outer space aliens. The "Storm Area 51" Facebook event went viral last month as people pledged to crash the secret military base in an attempt to "see them aliens" and has grown in scale in recent weeks. More than 2 million Facebook users have now said they are going, with over 1.4 million replying they were interested.
The event, which is scheduled to take place Friday, Sept. 20 between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. PDT, has garnered significant media attention, enough for the Air Force to issue a statement saying that it "would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces." It added that it [the U.S. Air Force] "always stands ready to protect America and its assets."
Nye County Director of Emergency Services Scott Lewis said Wednesday he is preparing for several scenarios with various severity levels.
“A mass casualty incident, serious traffic accident, large fire, anything along those lines. Even the potential for something similar to October 1," he told FOX5. "Anything along those lines we want to be prepared for to the best of our ability."
October 1 refers to the Las Vegas Massacre, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
On Wednesday, county officials said they believe 1,000 to 3,000 people could potentially show up in the town of Amargosa, which has a population of nearly 1,000 people. County Commission Chairman John Koenig laid out what could happen if a crowd that large ends up appearing in Amargosa.
“Be prepared not to have cell service, not to have Internet. There will probably be no water available, there will probably be no ice available because everything is going to sell out. There will probably be no gas left in the gas station, no food, nowhere to go potty," Koenig said Wednesday. "If you’re coming, be prepared because it’s probably not going to be nice.
He advised anyone planning to visit the area during the events should be prepared with food, water, and other essential items since those supplies will probably sell out very quickly.
Authorities are also concerned about a massive influx of traffic that could lead to gridlock, stymying first responders and law enforcement if they are needed.
County officials stressed they are worried that sources could get tied up with masses of people arriving on the lone highway in the area. Nye County commissioner Leo Blundo urged residents they should prepare by stocking up on food, water, gasoline, and prescription medication ahead of the weekend.
Cell phone service may also be impacted if thousands show up. Amargosa Town Board member Trevor Dolby told commissioners that cell phone towers in Amargosa were not designed to support the thousands of people, according to FOX5.
“What’s scary is our 9-1-1 paging service goes through cell phones,” Dolby said.
Earlier this month, neighboring Lincoln County drafted an emergency declaration but gave conditional approval for events in tiny towns near the once top-secret U.S. Air Force test area. that has long been a focus of UFO conspiracy theories.
The Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel is scheduling an event called Alienstock on Sept. 20-22, while The Alien Research Center souvenir shop in Hiko has planned a Sept. 20-21 expo. Those events in Hiko and Rachel would be about 100 miles from Amargosa Valley.
Rachel's website says the nearest gas stations are located 50 miles south in Ash Springs and 110 miles north in Tonopah.
"Other than the Little A'Le'Inn, a small bar/restaurant/motel, there are no services in Rachel. There is no gas and no store," a post from the town reads. "The Inn is booked for that weekend. If you plan on attending the event you must be experienced in camping, hiking and surviving in a harsh desert environment and have a vehicle in good shape."
Fox News' Chris Ciaccia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.