A powerful magnitude 6.4 earthquake has struck southern California near the city of Ridgecrest, about 175km northeast of Los Angeles.
The Kern County Fire Department said on Twitter it was working on “nearly 2 dozens (sic) incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest, CA”.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.6, was very shallow – only 8.7km – which would have amplified its effect.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the earthquake that struck around 1.30pm local time in an area on the edge of Death Valley National Park.
The temblor was felt throughout Los Angeles, as far north as Fresno and even in Las Vegas, Nevada, to the east. It was quickly followed by several smaller aftershocks in the area.
According to European quake agency EMSC, the quake was felt in an area inhabited by some 20 million people.
The epicentre was very close to Ridgecrest, a town with a population of more than 27,600 in the high desert.
The Kern County Fire Department said the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was evacuated. The department said it was working nearly two dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest.
Mayor Peggy Breeden said at least five fires broke out in the city.
“It almost gave me a heart attack,” said Cora Burke, a waitress at Midway Cafe in Ridgecrest. “It’s just a rolling feeling inside the building, inside the cafe. And all of a sudden, everything started falling off the shelf, glasses, the refrigerator and everything in the small refrigerator fell over.”
In the Kern County city of Bakersfield, Emma Gallegos told the Los Angeles Times the chiles hanging in her kitchen began shaking.
“I was in my kitchen trying to get some coffee, and all the windows started rattling,” she said. “It was just a little bit at first – I thought something was going by, and then I realized all the windows were rattling. It was kind of a long gentle roll.
In San Bernardino County, east of the epicenter, the Fire Department reported no injuries or fires. Authorities said multiple buildings had minor cracks, some water mains were broken, power lines came down, and some roads were blocked by rock slides.
#[email protected] resources working nearly 2 dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest, CA. @kerncountyfire Urban Search and Rescue teams en route. #kerncountyfirefighters
— Kern County Fire (@kerncountyfire) July 4, 2019
The Los Angeles Fire Department tweeted: “We are aware of the significant earthquake that just occurred in SoCal PLEASE do NOT call 9-1-1 unless there are injuries or other dangerous questions Please do not call for questions.”
LAFD said later that it found no signs of any significant damage or injuries in the city, although a damaged water main and three limited power outages could have been related to the quake.
USGS reported that the quake started 11 miles outside Ridgecrest at 10:33 a.m. The agency originally reported it had a magnitude of 6.6, later scaling it down to 6.4. Aftershocks of 4.7 and 3.0 magnitudes were reported minutes later, and scores more of less strength followed.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist and founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science & Society, said it was the strongest quake to hit the state in 20 years. Some aftershocks could exceed magnitude 5.0, she said.
“When you just went through a big rattle it can be distressing,” Goulet said. “It should be taken as a warning to get prepared. Because a larger one will happen eventually, we just don’t know where or when.”
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted that she has lived in Los Angeles all her life and it 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,” DuVernay said. “Respect Mother Nature. She’s the boss.”
Image: Broken bottles and other goods are strew on the floor of a store in Lake Isabella, Calif., after a 6.4 magnitude quake hit Southern California.