RIDGECREST, Calif. (AP) – Officials in Southern California on Saturday expressed relief that damage and injuries were no worse after the largest earthquake in the area in nearly 20 years, and expressed concerns about the possibility of larger aftershocks in days and even months come.
There were no deaths or serious injuries following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Friday night that struck an area from Sacramento to Mexico and resulted in the evacuation of the Navy’s largest single land holding, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert reported.
The quake hit Friday at 8:19 p.m. and was located 11 miles from Ridgecrest, the same area of the desert where a 6.4 magnitude tremor had occurred the day before. It left cracked and burning buildings, broken roads, clogged railroad tracks, and leaking water and gas pipes.
Most of the light damage was due to the removal of the area where the tremor occurred. Only 28,000 people live in the Ridgecrest region, which lies between more populous areas of Southern California and Clark County, Las Vegas.
However, seismologists warned that up to 30,000 aftershocks could occur in the region over the next six months.
April Hamlin said she was “already nervous” after Thursday’s quake when the second shook her home in Ridgecrest. She and her three children initially thought it was another aftershock.
“But it just kept intensifying,” she said. “The TV went over and hung on the cord. We heard it break. We heard broken glass in the other rooms, but we could only stay where we were until it stopped. “
With the possibility of aftershocks and temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) in the next few days, officials took precautionary measures.
The California National Guard sent 200 soldiers, logistical support and aircraft, Maj. General David Baldwin said. The Pentagon has been notified and the entire California Department of Military has been put on alert, he said.
China Lake Navy Air Force Station said in a Facebook post that unneeded workers have been evacuated and operations have ceased. Officials said the station was “not operational until further notice”. The Facebook post did not contain any details about damage.
The California Emergency Services Bureau brought cots, water and meals and set up refrigeration centers in the area, Director Mark Ghilarducci said.
State Highway officials closed a 30-mile stretch of State Route 178 between Ridgecrest and the town of Trona, southwest of Death Valley, due to a rock fall and severe cracks. The move left Trona temporarily interrupted. California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Knadler said crews worked all night mending the pavement, but it remained rough and uneven. A $ 3 million emergency contract has been approved for repairs, she said.
51-year-old Ron Mikulaco and his nephew, 23-year-old Brad Fernandez, stood on 178 on Saturday looking at the cracks in the street. The couple drove from Huntington Beach, about 274 kilometers southwest of Ridgecrest. Mikulaco, an amateur geologist, wanted to show his nephew “the power of Mother Nature,” and they had the longitude and latitude coordinates of the epicenter ready.
“We’ll put that in the GPS and we’ll get as close as possible,” Fernandez said.
In Ridgecrest, local fire and police officers said they were initially inundated with calls to medical services and ambulances. But Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said there was “nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises by the grace of God”.
McLaughlin said two building fires – one involving a motor home – were quickly extinguished and natural gas pipelines that were reported to be leaking were shut down.
According to firefighters, up to 50 buildings were damaged in Trona, a town of around 2,000 people that is considered the gateway to Death Valley. Robert Lovingood, head of the San Bernardino county, announced on Saturday that FEMA had delivered an articulated truck with bottled water due to damage to the water pipes. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the San Bernardino county, where Trona is located.
Julia Doss, who maintains the Trona Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook, said the only grocery store in town was a Family Dollar store, which closed on Saturday.
“The only way to get food is to go to Ridgecrest. With only three gas stations in town, I’m worried we’ll run out of fuel soon,” said Doss.
Antoun Abdullatif, 59, owns liquor stores and other businesses in Ridgecrest and Trona.
“I would say 70% of my inventory is broken on the floor,” he said. “Every time you sweep and throw things in the trash, you throw $ 200 in the trash.”
But he has stopped cleaning up and believes another earthquake is on the way.
“We’re waiting, but I hope it doesn’t come,” he said.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former scientific advisor with the US Geological Survey, said the new quake likely erupted along a fault line about 25 miles long and was part of an ongoing sequence. The seismic activity is unlikely to affect the fault lines outside the area, Jones said, noting that the gigantic fault is far away from San Andreas.
Egill Hauksson, another Caltech seismologist, said later in the day that scientists believe the continued sequence could generate more than 30,000 magnitude 1 or greater quakes over six months. He said the chance of a magnitude 7 is about 3% the next week, but a magnitude 6 quake or two is expected.
In Los Angeles, 150 miles away, the second quake struck Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning of the team’s game against the San Diego Padres. But the game went on and the Padres won 3-2.
“Not many people can say they threw a strike during an earthquake,” Eric Lauer, who was on the hill at the time, said later. “My ball, my playing field, caused an earthquake.”
Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Nguyen reported from San Francisco. Associate Press Writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City, Julia Williams in San Francisco, Adam Beam in Sacramento, Stefanie Dazio and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, Tarek Hamada in Phoenix, sports journalist Beth Harris in Los Angeles and Associated Press freelancer Jolene Latimer in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Eugene Johnson, right, looks down at the chimney that collapsed in an earthquake at his home in Trona, California on Saturday, July 6, 2019. The southern California crews assessed damage to cracked and burned buildings, broken roads, leaking water and gas pipes, and other infrastructure Saturday after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years struck an area from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico .
Katherine Johnson-Coates stands in front of a neighbour’s burned-down mobile home after an earthquake on Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Ridgecrest, California. The southern California crews assessed damage to cracked and burned buildings, broken roads, leaking water and gas pipes, and other infrastructure on Saturday after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years, an area stretched from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico shocked.
A crack can be seen in the driveway of a gas station following an earthquake on Saturday, July 6, 2019 in Trona, California. The southern California crews assessed damage to cracked and burned buildings, broken roads, leaking water and gas pipes, and other infrastructure on Saturday after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years, an area from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico shocked.
Ron Mikulaco (right) and his nephew Brad Fernandez investigate a crack caused by an earthquake on Highway 178 on Saturday, July 6, 2019, outside of Ridgecrest, California. Southern California crews assessed damage to cracked and burned buildings and broken roads Leaking water, gas and other infrastructure struck an area from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico on Saturday after the largest earthquake in the region in nearly 20 years.
Bottles of wine are strewn down the middle of an aisle as Victor Abdullatif, Background Center, wipes pugs at his family’s Eastridge Market, Saturday, July 6, 2019 in Ridgecrest, Calif. The southern California crews assessed the damage to cracks and burned buildings, broken roads, leaking water and gas pipes and other infrastructure traced an area from Sacramento to Las Vegas on Saturday after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years Mexico shakes.