“Get under the table!” Video captures 7.1 earthquake
Updates, July 6:
Original story, July 5:
For the second straight day, an earthquake could be felt in the Fresno, California, area and beyond.
The latest quake occurred around 8:19 p.m. Friday and lasted at least a minute, causing a lengthy sway around town.
The earthquake registered a magnitude of 7.1 and once again occurred near the Kern County town of Ridgecrest, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
It’s the same area where Thursday morning’s earthquake occurred, which drew a magnitude of 6.4.
The earthquake, which occurred 11 miles north-east of Ridgecrest, was felt as far north as Sacramento, as east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico, the USGS said.
Friday’s quake caused at least two structure fires, damage to roads and some injuries in Ridgecrest, which was already trying to recover from the previous temblor.
Some Ridgecrest residents had prepared to sleep outside as shaking continued beneath them.
The quake initially was reported as a magnitude of 7.1 then changed to 6.9 before wavering back to 7.1.
Friday night’s earthquake, nonetheless, is the largest temblor in the region in 20 years.
The severity of the quake is nearly twice the intensity of the 1989 Loma Preita quake that struck the Bay Area in 1989, and was about 22 times stronger than shaking that hit the Napa area in 2014.
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state Office of Emergency Services, said the two Mojave Desert towns of Ridgecrest (population 29,000) and Trona (population 1,800) suffered damage in and around town.
Trona is located about 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, where a building collapsed and more fires were reported.
Officials were having a difficult time getting to Trona because of damaged roads, Ghilarducci 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 cleaners, soaps and the chemical industries.
Highway 178, the major highway through the area, suffered significant damage and was closed along several stretches 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. Slides also took place on Highways 127 and 190 to the west of the epicenter, the agency said, but were already cleared by crews.
State officials said more than 100 mutual aid personnel were dispatched to the scene from Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, among others. The Fresno Rescue Task Force was mentioned as providing aid.
Some were already in the area from Thursday’s quake and had been released shortly before Friday’s quake.
The Kern County Fire Department said 1,800 people currently were without power, though no major reports of gas leaks.
In addition, the department received multiple calls for medical aid but unknown information if anyone had died.
There also were multiple reports of structure fires that the department was trying to handle.
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 considered 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.”
“It seems to be dying down a bit, but we have never seen a sequence like this suddenly stop,” she said. “But it’s far from unprecedented.”
Added Robert Graves, a USGS seismologist: “There’s a 5 percent chance that this could be followed by an even larger quake.”
The quake, however, 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.
“As you go away from distance, it becomes much less likely,” Jones said. “It’s over a hundred miles (to) the San Andreas (fault line) from this location.”
Bakersfield is nearest large city to feel the quake, located 100 miles to the west.
Closer to home, many who attended a Fresno Grizzlies baseball game at Chukchansi Park could feel the stadium sway.
Eric Tovar of Fresno was sitting in the lower-level stands when his chair started swerving back and forth.
Others at the downtown ballpark took notice, too, with some moving down a level out of safety concerns.
There was no stoppage of play on the field, though, with the earthquake occurring in the middle of a Grizzlies visit to the pitcher’s mound during the fifth inning.
“Everybody was like was ‘That an earthquake,’ ” Tovar said. “I looked at the foul pole, and it was swerving back and forth.”
According to the Associated Press, officials in San Bernardino County reported homes shifting, foundation cracking and retaining walls coming down. One person suffered minor injuries and was being treated by firefighters, they said.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department added that there were numerous gas leaks and deputies were helping people evacuate.
The press box at Dodger Stadium lurched for several seconds, and fans in the upper deck appeared to be moving toward the exit.
An NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas was stopped after the quake. Speakers over the court at the Thomas & Mack Center continued swaying more than 10 minutes after the quake.
In a statement just after 9 p.m., 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 @Cal_OES state operation center to its highest level,” Newsom wrote in a Twitter post. “And the state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders.”
Ghilarducci, the state’s emergency chief, also said that Newsom had reached out to the White House to ask for President Donald Trump to issue a presidential emergency declaration, which could quickly provide 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.
Around 9:20 p.m., a brief aftershock rolled through and could be felt in the Fresno area.
The aftershock was confirmed by the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.