SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been speculated to death, but now the time is nigh. Storm Area 51 is about to begin.
It’s a gathering of great concern for Lincoln County, Nevada, officials. They tell KSL Newsradio that they’re as ready as they can be for an event that had to be planned in under two months.
“You take Burning Man, for example,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee, “They plan a year in advance. We’ve had about six to eight weeks to plan for this.”
“This,” is a gathering of people that stemmed from a joke posted on Facebook. It was an event that involved “storming” Area 51, or as local law enforcement calls it, the NTTR, the Nevada Test and Training Range.
The post that spawned a movement
The original Facebook event posting turned into a movement that’s become a party on September 20th and 21st.
There are a lot of concerns, says Sheriff Lee, including traffic and waste management. But their top priority, he says, is taking care of the 300-plus first responders who will keep an eye on and, likely, take care of some of the party-goers descending on the small towns of Rachel and Hico.
“It’s just a lot of logistics,” Lee says. “Think about housing, feeding, and watering 300 first responders. That’s a pretty big undertaking.”
Then there are the visitors.
“30,000 is what we were planning for,” says Sheriff Lee. “I do not feel like there’s going to be that many people. But we still have to plan on it.”
The plan includes bringing 150 additional police officers from as far away as Reno and Las Vegas. Lee says they’re calling in additional ambulances from Las
Vegas, too, at least six of them. And don’t forget those 300-plus first responders, who include emergency workers, firefighters, and Bureau of Land Management firefighters and Rangers.
Even if the number of people who show up only ends up being one-third of the estimate, that’s 10,000 people. And that more than doubles the number of people who call Lincoln County, Nevada, home.
So what’s the big deal?
Run by the Air Force, the NTTR is a training area used by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base. It boasts shooting ranges with more than a thousand targets and remote communication sites. The US Military uses the area to practice gunnery and bombing, as well as for nuclear tests and multiple other exercises required for US military readiness.
But that’s not why thousands of people are expected to show up in Rachel, Nevada, this weekend.
Some UFO enthusiasts believe that the NTTR is home to a recovered alien spacecraft. This idea was floated by a man who claimed to have worked at the NTTR in the 1980s.
Enthusiasts refer to the NTTR as Area 51, which is how the area was identified on maps created by the Atomic Energy Commission. The legend of the secret alien craft gained momentum as more people reported seeing UFO sightings near the NTTR.
What to do if you go
Sheriff Lee has some very specific requests for you if you plan to visit Rachel, Nevada, this weekend. He says you should be prepared for a lack of resources. He says there will be water and food trucks at the venues, but you should bring water, too.
He says you should expect cold nights and hot days, and that you should be acutely aware of where you can and cannot camp. Also, we’re still in fire season and the wind can quickly whip up flames. Much of the surrounding land is BLM land, and they restrict campers to using only a propane grill, no open fires are allowed.
And what if, as a meme that sprang from the original Facebook event asked, you want to “see them aliens?”
“Don’t cross the boundary of Area 51,” Sheriff Lee says. “It’s just going to cause undue strain on law enforcement. It’s going to cost you a $1,000 citation, probably towing your vehicle, and a trip to jail.”
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