What was supposed to be a celebratory 4th of July turned to horror, as a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Southern California, damaging numerous buildings, causing fires, and cracking roads in the region.
The quake is the most powerful tremor felt in SoCal – a region of 20 million people – in 25 years; it struck near the city of Ridgecrest, about 160 miles northeast of Los Angeles. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck at 10:33am PT.
Miraculously, there were no recorded deaths following the earthquake, but some injuries were reported in Ridgecrest. A hospital in the city, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, was evacuated, with about 15 patients moved to other locations.
Following the earthquake, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved an emergency proclamation. Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden also declared a state of emergency.
USGS seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones warned that there have already been an alarming number of aftershocks following the quake. In a news conference, she said that in excess of 20 3.5 magnitude aftershocks had been detected.
“I would expect that there will continue to be magnitude 3s every few minutes, as there have been since this earthquake happened and that as those many 3s come through, we’re going to have several 4s,” Jones added.
CBS News reported that, following the quake, the Kern County Fire Department has responded to at least 24 medical and fire incidents in Ridgecrest.
Roadways between Trona and Ridgecrest sported cracks due to the quake. While there were cracks along Highway 178, officials confirmed that overpasses and underpasses in the region are in serviceable condition, the Associated Press reported.