The Southland escaped damage from a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the same Mojave Desert area where a 6.4 quake struck a day earlier, but seismologists have said the danger is not over yet, with a high number of aftershocks expected during the next week with the possibility of another sizable temblor.
Urban search and rescue teams from the Los Angeles and Los Angeles County fire departments and Orange County Fire Authority were deployed to the Kern County city of Ridgecrest to help authorities there in assessing damage to homes and businesses following Friday night’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
“These veteran LAFD responders are proud emissaries of the people of Los Angeles, and eager to leverage considerable skill in helping the people of Kern County,” said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team 136 and Hazardous Materials Team 811 were sent to Ridgecrest Friday night, according to Inspector Brian Stevens.
A heavy rescue apparatus and urban search and rescue support vehicle with six firefighters left Friday night for Ridgecrest, the OCFA said.
The powerful quake struck about 8:16 p.m. Friday, about 9 miles west-southwest of Searles Valley in southwestern San Bernardino County, and occurred on the same fault that produced a magnitude 6.4 foreshock on Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
There were no reports of serious damage in Los Angeles and surrounding cities.
Many aftershocks have followed, the majority between magnitude 3 and 4, with seismologists estimating there have been more than 3,000 earthquakes since July 6. . The USGS estimated a 3% chance of another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater striking the region within the next week. The chance of a quake of magnitude 6 or higher was estimated at 27%, and it is most likely that as many as two such quakes will occur. The chance of a magnitude 5 or higher quake is 96%, with as many as eight likely to occur, the USGS said.
Seismologists say they anticipate between 240 and 410 quakes of magnitude 3 or higher.
“Prepare yourself for the next week to two weeks, this isn’t going to stop in the near future,” Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin told residents late Friday night.
Only minor injuries, “cuts and bruises,” were reported in Ridgecrest. The city’s water system is intact without contamination and the hospital is under a “shelter in place” order until the integrity of the building can be assessed, McLaughlin said.
On Saturday, Caltrans reported that all roads near the quake area were open, including State Route 178, which re-opened after emergency temporary repairs.
Many residents of Ridgecrest were sleeping outside — fearful to be in their homes — choosing to be with their neighbors in their driveways and in the streets, according to Mayor Peggy Breeden.
“It is not an impossible task to take care of all of this, but it is going to be a larger task than we thought the other day,” Breeden said.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported an outage in Encino that was suspected of being quake-related had knocked out power to 1,000 customers.
The earthquake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, forcing stoppage of an NBA Summer League game and at Dodger Stadium, where the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the San Diego Padres. It was the largest in Southern California since a 7.1 quake in 1999 hit the Hector Mines area of the Mojave Desert.
Cracked buildings and injuries were reported in Kern and San Bernardino counties, ABC7 reported.
In Ventura County, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake was declared not mission-capable, according to a post on the base’s Facebook page, although it remained accessible for mission-essential personnel only.
Gov. Gavin Newsom surveyed quake damage in the Ridgecrest area on Saturday and said he had discussed the situation with President Donald Trump. Newsom has requested a presidential emergency declaration for direct federal assistance to further support emergency response and recovery in impacted communities and activated the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to its highest level. The state is also coordinating mutual aid to local first responders, Newsom said.
“I have all the confidence in the world that the president will be forthcoming in immediate terms with the federal declaration,” Newsom said during a news conference following his tour. “We don’t agree on everything, but one area where there’s no politics, and we (have) worked extraordinarily well together is on emergency response and recovery, and increasing that emergency preparedness.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said there have been no reports of damage on the Metro rail system or any other significant problems in the city following a damage assessment on Friday. Metrolink officials reported delays on various lines due to crews inspecting tracks throughout the system, but there were no reports of damage.
Officials at Los Angeles International Airport said there were no reports of damage or injuries and no reports of any flight delays.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn will join seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones and experts from the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management during a news conference Sunday to discuss ways residents can plan ahead for major earthquakes. Jones will also provide an update on recent seismic activity and what it could mean for future earthquakes.