RIDGECREST, Calif. – The strongest earthquake to hit Southern California in nearly 20 years left scattered damage Thursday morning and was felt from Las Vegas to Orange County, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
At least 85 aftershocks of 2.5 or greater were recorded after the earthquake, according to CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink. The largest of them reached a magnitude of 4.6.
Lucy Jones of the USGS called it a “robust” series and said there is a 50 percent chance of another large quake in the next week.
Footage from Ridgecrest showed firefighters hosing down flames rising from homes.
“As I understand, we have five fires,” Mayor Peggy Breeden said. “We have broken gas lines.”
There were also power outages in the city of 28,000 residents. The forecasted high temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service said.
April Rodriguez was at home in Trona when she felt a smaller quake followed by a larger one “that didn’t stop,” she said.
“We were panicked trying to get out of the house because everything is falling out of the cabinets, off the shelves, off the walls. … They were flying like missiles off the shelves.”
In central Los Angeles, the main temblor was felt as a long, rolling quake, and buildings rocked back and forth for at least several seconds.
The National Weather Service tweeted that the earthquake was also felt in Las Vegas.
USGS has updated the Magnitude of the earthquake to a 6.4 located 60 miles NW of Barstow, CA. Lots of people around the region felt it, but so far no significant damage reports. Many aftershocks still occurring near the epicenter. #nvwx #azwx #cawx
— NWS Las Vegas (@NWSVegas) July 4, 2019
It was the largest quake to hit the area since 1999 when a 7.1 earthquake struck in a remote part of the Mojave desert, Jones said.
In 1994, at least 57 people died in the 6.7 Northridge quake in Los Angeles, which caused $25 billion in damage.
Jones said there is a one in 20 chance that a bigger earthquake will hit within the next few days. “It’s certain that this area is going to be shaking a lot today and some of those aftershocks will probably exceed magnitude 5.”
Jones said the quake was preceded by magnitude 4.2 temblor about 30 minutes before, which she called a foreshock.
Hospital being evacuated
In Kern County, at the epicenter, the Fire Department responded to more than 20 incidents relating to the earthquake and aftershocks, including fires and medical emergencies, according to a tweet on its verified account.
Kern County Fire also tweeted that Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was being evacuated.
Trona, an unincorporated community, “sustained varying degrees of damage” but no injuries have been reported, according to San Bernardino County Fire’s verified Twitter account.
The department reported “minor cracks (in buildings); broken water mains; power lines down; rock slides on certain roads” in northwestern communities in the county.
Dorothea Smith said boulders fell down hillsides, shattering the asphalt and blocking mountain roads.
“There is no going in or out of Trona right now. We’re like stuck.”
Highway 178 has a four-inch crack said San Bernardino County Fire spokesman Jeremy Kern. All highways in San Bernardino County remain open. The area’s high tension power lines are all intact.
Diane Ruggiero, general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites Ridgecrest in Ridgecrest, said that the hotel sustained significant damage.
“The chandeliers are still swinging,” she said five minutes after the quake hit at 10:33 a.m. PT. “The floor rippled.”
A woman on Twitter shared video from “My dads liquor store in Ridgecrest (11 miles from the earthquake)
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Been living in Los Angeles all my life. That was the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. Not jerky. Smooth and rolling. But it was loooong. It was so long I thought for the first time ever “Is this the big one?” Damn. Respect Mother Nature. She’s the boss.”
In Lancaster, one Twitter user reported people fleeing a movie theater.
“Felt like we were on a turntable,” user Rudio87 wrote.
Los Angeles International Airport said no damage was reported on runways. “Operations remain normal,” it tweeted.
“We have no reports of damage to any FAA facilities or operational effects from the quake at this time,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
A tsunami is not expected, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.
This is a developing story. Return for updates…