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Residents on Edge after 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Southern California; Second Major Quake in 24 Hours

Residents on Edge after 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Southern California; Second Major Quake in 24 Hours
Visitors cross highway 178 next to a crack left on the road by an earthquake Sunday, July 7, 2019, near Ridgecrest, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Ridgecrest in Kern County was the epicenter of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Southern California Friday evening, shaking the earth for 25 seconds. Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake that hit the area on Thursday was a “foreshock” that preceded Friday’s more powerful earthquake. At publishing time no fatalities had been reported, but emergency responders are reporting injuries, significant property damage, fires, and power outages across the area.

At 8:19 p.m. Pacific, the USGS recorded an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 centered in Ridgecrest, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles, calling it the “mainshock” that came after the 6.4 magnitude Fourth of July quake. People across Southern California—and even as far away as Las Vegas and Mexico—felt tremors from the event.

(Image via USGS)

Mark Ghilarducci from the California Emergency Management Agency said in a late-night news conference that there are “significant reports of fires, structure fires, mostly as the result of gas leaks or gas line breaks.” He added that there are gas line breaks throughout the city. “There are also reports of water main breaks. Power is out and communications are out in parts of the community.”

Ghilarducci noted that Ridgecrest is “remotely located,” so getting resources to the area is an ongoing challenge.

State Route 178 in Kern County had to be closed after a rockslide blocked the road and caused it to sink.

“We know of no fatalities. There have been a lot of ambulance calls for help,” Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said at a news conference. “We’re launching a lot of people … I am very confident that we can take care of the situation.”

The small town of Trona was also hit hard on Friday:

There were also reports of damage to a water tower in Trona:

Jeffrey McGregor was having dinner in the Coachella Valley when the earthquake struck:

Jon Baird, a reporter from KNX1070, was at home with his family in El Segundo when the house started shaking. His children ducked under the dining room table to protect themselves.

Another Twitter user shared a video of water splashing out of his mother’s pool:

No damage to major infrastructure has been recorded, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the state’s Office of Emergency Services “to its highest level” on Friday night. “The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders,” he said.

Seismologist Lucy Jones warned on Twitter early Saturday morning that more could be coming:

She later updated that to say there a one-in-ten chance of another major quake in the next 12-18 hours:

Fears of additional earthquakes have Southern California residents on edge.

“People should be expecting at least one 6.1 magnitude or higher and at least ten 5.1 magnitude or higher,” Ken Heyer from the USGS said during the late-night news conference.

Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden told reporters that people are sleeping outside and even in the streets fearing another earthquake. “We are asking everyone to drive safely, be careful,” she said, warning that drivers should look out for people who might be in the streets tonight.

The Ridgecrest Police advised residents in the affected areas to remove objects hanging on the walls of their homes, to have supplies on hand, and to stock up on food and water, “just in case we have something bigger than we had today.”

By publishing time, Southern California had already experienced nearly 100 aftershocks—three with a magnitude 5 or greater.