OFFICIALS where "Storm Area 51" events will take place fear up to 40,000 may gather – prompting emergency plans and fears it could "get ugly".
Alien-hunters are due to swarm to a remote Nevada county that's home to the secretive military base next month after a viral internet drive.
The 2million-strong Facebook event – "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All Of Us" – launched as a web prank in July to "see them aliens".
It calls on gatherers to form en masse at 3am on September 20 to overrun the mysterious US air base – which is at the centre of alien conspiracy theories.
But the event has now morphed into a three-day alien-themed festival that local officials in sparse Lincoln County fear could overwhelm the area.
It's due to take place in the tiny hamlet of Rachel, Nevada – which has a population of around just 50 and a small motel.
We don't want civilian people in contact with the military at all. That will get ugly
There are concerns of mobile phone outages as well as crippling shortages of food, water and fuel when so-called Alien Stock launches.
County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Oh, we're taking this seriously.
"With the possibility of 35,000 to 40,000 people showing up, yeah, this is serious."
And Mr Higbee gave a stark warning to visitors who are hoping to try to enter Area 51.
He said: "We don't want them going down to government property – it will probably be blocked off.
"We don't want civilian people in contact with the military at all.
"That will get ugly."
Officials in the 5,200-population Lincoln County have drafted an emergency declaration and a plan to combine resources with neighbouring counties.
But Mr Higbee added: "The cellphone system is going to go down.
"You get more than a couple of hundred people there, and it's going to crash.
"Cell service won't be available."
Alien Stock will centre around the Little A'Le'Inn – an extra-terrestrial themed hotel whose co-owner Connie West said is expecting 10,000 people to attend.
Meanwhile, a separate gathering related to the "Storm Area 51" event will take place on September 20-21 in Hiko.
It will be based at the Alien Research Center souvenir shop in the town of about 120 people – which is about a 45-minute drive from Rachel.
Both events have caused alarm among local authorities who may seek back-up from Nevada state officials if an emergency is declared.
County Sheriff Kerry Lee said on Tuesday that he was meeting with state emergency planning officials.
County officials have also met with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Clark County, the sheriffs of White Pine and Nye counties, and the Nevada Highway Patrol.
NEED FOR BACK-UP
Mr Higbee, who has authority to invoke a declaration, said it would provide financial help and emergency personnel from the state.
He added: "We don't know where or how far our resources are going to go.
"A lot of it is equipment and financing.
"The county only has so much money to deal with."
Organisers of the events have been granted conditional permits – but must submit final plans to the Lincoln County Commission by September 3.
Mr Higbee added: "They have to have their security, medical, parking plans and few other things (ready)."
What is Area 51? The top secret US air base steeped in extra-terrestrial intrigue
AREA 51 is a highly classified US air base in the remote Nevada desert.
It is officially known as Homey Airport, but gained its now famous name from CIA documents that referred to it by the codename Area 51.
The exact purpose of the air base is not known publicly, and the area is heavily restricted.
Trespassers can face huge fines and lengthy prison sentences for setting foot in the zone.
Purchased by the US government in 1955, evidence suggests the site is used as a testing area for experimental aircraft and weapons.
But the secrecy surrounding it has led conspiracy theorists to suggest the area is holding extra-terrestrial secrets.
Theories suggest engineers examine crashed spacecrafts — and even hold meetings with aliens from across the galaxy.
The crash of a weather balloon at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 sparked wild theories of an alien ship crash.
Some have suggested Area 51 is still storing parts of the crashed ship — or even its alien inhabitants.
US government officials had for decades refused to acknowledge Area 51's existence.
But in 2013 the CIA released declassified documents referring to the 8,000-square mile installation by name and locating it on a map near the dry Groom Lake bed.
The base has been a testing ground for a host of top-secret aircraft, including the U-2 in the 1950s and later the B-2 stealth bomber.
But secrecy surrounding the site has fuelled conspiracy theories among UFO enthusiasts.
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