No deaths reported after 7.1 earthquake rocks Ridgecrest, state
Shock waves go all directions: Sacramento, Phoenix, Mexico
For the second consecutive day, a major earthquake shook Southern California and was felt far beyond, stopping the NBA’s Summer League games in Las Vegas, forcing the evacuation of rides at Disneyland in Anaheim, and reminding residents that the state is always on unstable ground and destined for more.
It registered a magnitude of 7.1 on Friday night and was the strongest earthquake to hit the state in two decades, causing fires in the small town of Ridgecrest (population 29,000), and sending shock waves than 300 miles away in all directions – Sacramento, Phoenix, Mexico.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit at 8:19 p.m., 11 miles north-northeast of Ridgecrest, near where a magnitude 6.4 quake hit Thursday morning, but was more shallow. It was followed by nearly 100 aftershocks, some of which were magnitude 4.0 or higher across the Searles Valley, an area straddling Inyo, Kern and San Bernardino counties.
Friday’s quake caused at least four structure fires, damage to roads and some minor injuries in Ridgecrest and the surrounding area, which was already trying to recover from the previous temblor.
“It’s hard for the world to know what we’ve been through,” Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin told reporters Saturday morning. “By the grace of God, we’ve had no causalities.”
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state Office of Emergency Services, said at a Saturday news conference there were numerous reports in Ridgecrest of fires, mostly the result of gas leaks, but damage to the area was minimal and there were no fatalities. Officials said there
were injuries from “falling debris,” although they did not provide a number.
He said the hardest hit area was the town of Trona, 20 miles northeast of Ridgecrest in San Bernardino County. Officials were having a difficult time getting to the town of 1,500 people because of damaged roads, he said.
Of most concern was the Searles Valley Minerals plant, the town’s main employer and a manufacturer of borax materials and other compounds used in cleansers, soaps and other industrial uses.
Power that was knocked out in the quake was restored in the Ridgecrest area, but Ghilarducci said electricity in Trona remained mostly out.
Also significantly affected was the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a sprawling weapons facility near Ridgecrest, although details were sparse.
“NAWS China Lake is not mission capable until further notice,” according to a Facebook post by naval base officials.
Officials were still working to assess the damage but were challenged by the area’s remoteness.
“We do feel like there is damage but we don’t know the extent of it yet,” Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said at the emergency operations center in Bakersfield. “Nobody was trapped, no major collapses that we know of. But we’re out there searching.”
Highway 178, the major highway through the area, suffered significant damage and was closed for several hours in and around the high desert communities, according to Caltrans. Rock slides had occurred in the canyon between Bakersfield and Lake Isabella, closing the highway there. Officials strongly urged motorists to avoid the Kern Canyon area on Saturday morning.
State officials said more than 100 mutual aid personnel were dispatched to the scene from Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, among others. Some were already in the area from Thursday’s quake and had been released shortly before Friday’s quake.
The California National Guard said a joint task force was being deployed with about 200 security forces and military aircraft.
Ghilarducci said multiple state resources, as well as officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were working to assist in disaster relief, noting that more earthquakes were expected.
“This is not something that’ll be over right away,” he said.
The severity of the quake was nearly twice the intensity of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake that struck in 1989, which
IN THE FOUR HOURS AFTER THE SHAKING STARTED, THE FAULT AREA HAD FOUR EARTHQUAKES GREATER THAN MAGNITUDE 5.
killed 63 and damaged many structures in San Francisco, including the Bay Bridge.
Shaking was widely felt, though not as intense, in the Los Angeles area, about 110 miles from the epicenter. There were no reports of injuries or damage, city officials said.
The earthquake was felt in Sacramento, as well as Stockton and Marysville. The quake was felt as far east as Phoenix and south to Mexico, according to the USGS. In Las Vegas, NBA Summer League action was halted after the quake as speakers above the court swayed for more than 10 minutes at Thomas & Mack Center.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at USGS, said at a news conference Friday night that more strong earthquakes in this series of quakes were likely to happen in the next week.
“We’re having a robust sequence,” she said from the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena. “There’s no reason to think it’s going to be stopping.”
Officials said that in the four hours after the shaking started, the fault area had four earthquakes greater than magnitude 5, 20 quakes in the magnitude 4 range and more than 50 quakes from 3.0 to 3.9. Jones said Friday’s 7.1 earthquake was triggered by Thursday’s quake, which scientists now consider a foreshock.
“These earthquakes are related,” she said, adding that the new quake probably ruptured along about 25 miles of fault line.
Jones and others scientists said more shaking was a certainty in the next week: “The chance of something over (magnitude) 6 is 50 percent.”
However, the quake was unlikely to affect fault lines or regions outside of the Ridgecrest area, Jones said, noting that the gigantic San Andreas Fault was far away.
In declaring a state emergency for Kern and San Bernardino counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom said state resources, including the state OES, were monitoring the situation and assisting local emergency personnel.
“In response to another large earthquake in Southern California tonight, I have activated the ... state operation center to its highest level,” Newsom wrote in a Twitter post. “And the state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders.”
Newsom said Saturday morning he asked for a presidential emergency declaration for federal money and resources.
More earthquakes had been expected after the July 4 quake in Ridgecrest was felt across a wide swath of Southern California. Hours earlier, seismologists had said that quake had been followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks and that they might continue for years.
“The potential for danger can’t be underestimated, and residents of Southern California must be prepared in case there are further, more dangerous quakes,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in prepared remarks.
Ronnie Tolbert, left, and her husband Danny, sleep on mattresses Saturday in the front yard of their home in Trona, Calif., that was severely damaged in a 7.1 magnitude earthquake Friday night. Electricity was restored in Ridgecrest but in Trona it remained mostly out.
Leah Weems, left, leaves with a free pizza as Jose Poblano, right, waits in line as Ridgecrest customers line up for free pizza at Little Caesars pizza Saturday, July 6, 2019 in Ridgecrest. Franchise owner Johnny Baklini said he decided to offer one free pepperoni pizza per person to Ridgecrest citizens to help deal with earthquakes.
Ron Mikulaco, left, with his nephew Brad Fernandez, gets a close look at a crack caused by an earthquake on Highway 178 Saturday near Ridgecrest. Crews assessed damage from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico.