Southern California jolted by biggest earthquake in 20 years Friday night

Posted at 1:38 PM, Jul 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-06 15:38:27-04

CALIFORNIA – Crews in Southern California were assessing the damage Saturday after the region was rattled by another powerful earthquake late Friday evening. The magnitude 7.1 quake caused injuries, sparked fires and closed roadways but no deaths were reported.

The latest earthquake happened just after 8 p.m. local time and was centered in the Mojave Desert near the town of Ridgecrest, which is still recovering from a 6.4 quake on the Fourth of July.

Social media posts showed restaurant lights swaying, items crashing from store shelves and vehicles shaking violently more than 100 miles from the center of the quake.

Friday night’s quake is Southern California’s most powerful one since a 7.1 quake struck near a U.S. Marine Corps base in the Mojave Desert in 1999. The last earthquake to cause major destruction in the region was in 1994 when a 6.7 magnitude quake in densely populated Northridge killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

The California National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin. The Pentagon had been notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert, he said.

A fire official says there were no fatalities or major injuries in Ridgecrest after the earthquake on Friday night. Kern County Fire Chief David Witt also said Saturday there were no major building collapses but some structures could be weakened from the back-to-back quakes.

Zion Williamson’s NBA debut got off to an earth-shaking start. The NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas between Williamson’s Pelicans and the Knicks was suspended after the quake as speakers over the court during at the Thomas & Mack Center continued swaying more than 10 minutes.

In Los Angeles, the earthquake jolted Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning of the team’s game against the Padres, but the game was not suspended. Padres pitcher Eric Lauer, who was on the mound at the time, later said: my “My pitch, started an earthquake.”

The quake affected amusement parks across two states. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita and Disneyland in Orange County closed their rides while the Big Apple Coaster swayed at the New York-New York hotel in Las Vegas.

Dozens of aftershocks have been reported following Friday evening’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit near Ridgecrest, just one day after a 6.4 magnitude quake rocked the area, CBS Los Angeles reports. Seismologists are anticipating as many as 410 quakes of magnitude 3 or higher.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency declaration in response to the damage reported in Ridgecrest.

“On behalf of all Californians, I offer my heartfelt support to those affected by tonight’s earthquake near Ridgecrest. The State of California will continue to offer support to aid residents in the region,” he said in a statement.

“I have also activated the State Operations Center in Mather, California to its highest level and the center is already working closely with state, federal and local emergency managers and first responders.”

Authorities are going street to street assessing the damage in Kern County. Local fire officials are concerned about the structural integrity of a church in Tronc, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Houses throughout the town were strewn with books, fallen televisions and broken glass, but most concerning is the structural damage and cracks that can be seen in foundations.

“I was inside the house and it started shaking,” resident Randy Witcher said. “I was in my lounge chair and it started shaking and it continued.”

“I fell down on the front porch,” he said. “It was very loud. You talk about a train rumbling, and that is what it sounds like.”

There’s a very good chance the region could get more 5 magnitude aftershocks. There is a 1 in 20 chance the region could get a bigger earthquake.

Seismologist Lucy Jones said there have been more than a thousand aftershocks since a 6.4 magnitude quake rattled the same region on Independence Day. That tremor is now considered a foreshock to the much larger quake Friday night. If the 7.1 measurement sticks, it would be the largest earthquake to shake the region in two decades.