The massive 7.1 earthquake that struck Southern California near Ridgecrest on July 5, 2019 caused a lot of shaking, and some of it was captured live on a broadcast by KCAL9 TV news (CBS Los Angeles).
You can watch that video later in this article.
The earthquake – which caused rock slides and structure fires and an unknown number of medical calls – came on the heels of the massive Fourth of July quake. But it was larger, and it turns out that the July 4 quake was the foreshock of the one on July 5, according to a well-known seismologist. The quake was felt as far away as Los Angeles but the center is closer to the 29,000-population community of Ridgecrest, CA. The July 5 quake was initially reported as a 7.1, but it was later downgraded to 6.9 magnitude. It was then raised back to 7.1.
Here’s the KCAL9 video. In it, the anchors – Sara Donchey and Juan Fernandez – look terrified as shaking begins. Donchey told viewers they were experiencing a “very strong earthquake” and then the anchors said they were cutting to a break because they needed to get under the anchor desk for cover.
The station also ran the frightening video on its website, reporting, “This evening’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake that shook Southern California was caught on camera during our 8 p.m. show.”
Donchey wrote on Twitter, “My heart goes out to everyone in #Ridgecrest who are surely shaken after that massive 7.1 #earthquake. As a parent, the first thing I thought of was my infant son at home with my family and I was praying he was safe and comforted. Thoughts go out to all in Kern County right now.”
The July 4 quake was already the largest in nearly 20 years, before it was bested by the one on July 5. “They’re saying the ground split,” said Winter Wilson, who was driving home to Trona from Bakersfield, to the Los Angeles Times. “They made me promise not to come.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Officials Were Searching for Damage & Flooded With Calls for Medical Help
Although shaking was widely reported in Los Angeles and other communities, the focal point of concern and damage was the community of Ridgecrest, which is located in Kern County, California.
Kern County fire officials said in an evening news conference on July 5 they had they had no reports of major gas leaks but 1,800 people were without power. They said Highway 178 through the canyon is closed. “We have a lot of people who are here to help, and we’re taking action,” said Kern County California Fire Chief David Witt.
Authorities were doing a “systematic search of Ridgecrest for life and property,” Witt said, adding that they were fielding a lot of medical aid calls from that community. He said officials knew of no fatalities at this time. He did not give an estimate of injuries on the evening of July 5. “We are launching a lot of people,” Witt said. “We have a strike team of engines.”
Witt said there were many concerns – a dam, the potential for buildings collapsed, and the possibility of people trapped. But he said they had no reports at the moment of major building collapses. “The first part is finding where those buildings are…there are so many calls for help that we have a backlog of calls in the Ridgecrest area,” Witt added.
Asked about his reaction to another quake, he said: “Feeling the earth move…we found out it was a 7.1 one. Realizing that was more significant than the one that was previous, we started launching a lot of equipment, even though we don’t know how much damage there is.”
The center of the first quake was near Searles Valley in San Bernardino County. That time, there were reports of people needing medical assistance and of damaged roadways and buildings. In Ridgecrest, in Kern County, CA, there were five fires and other damages, the mayor told CNN. On July 5, there were already reports of rock slides and structure fires. According to the Weather Channel, “The quake on Friday evening released at least 10 times more energy than its foreshock.”
CNN reported that “multiple fires and injuries” were occurring in Ridgecrest, and videos showed blazes. One person wrote on Twitter: “I have family in Ridgecrest. My cousins house may fall down so they’re outside. I also have family in Palmdale. Depending on where you are prepare yourself for evacuation. Better to be ready and not need it than be evacuated without your needs.”
The new earthquake is not an after shock, according to a prominent seismologist. In fact, she says that the earlier quake was a FORESHOCK of the one on July 5. The seismologist, Dr. Lucy Jones, wrote on Twitter: “So the M6.4 was a foreshock. This was a M7.1 on the same fault as has been producing the Searles Valley sequence. This is part of the same sequence.”
Jones told the LA Times: “The fault is growing. We ruptured a piece in the first earthquake, we ruptured a piece in the 5.4…and we’ve ruptured more now.”
“911 calls coming in from NW communities of #SBCounty. Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down. One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient. No unmet needs currently,” San Bernardino County Fire tweeted on July 5.
The earthquake’s effects were also captured on video during a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers kept playing despite feeling shaking from the July 5 quake. “Yes, another #earthquake. Reminder, only use 911 for emergencies. 877-ASK-LAPD for non emergencies in the City of LA. The LAPD will be working with our city partners to ensure everyone’s safety in the City of Los Angeles,” the Los Angeles Police Department wrote on the evening of July 5.
Preliminary reports gave the following information: “A 7.1 magnitude earthquake occurred 10.56mi NNE of Ridgecrest, CA.”
Authorities stressed in a midnight news conference that they aren’t sure the degree of damage in the communities of Ridgecrest and Trona. That’s because of nightfall, and they said they need to wait for morning to know for sure.
Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), said in a midnight press conference that the governor had asked the president for an emergency declaration. He said a number of injuries were reported, but he said he did not know the number yet. There were no fatalities reported yet, but authorities are not sure yet whether there were any. He said a “strike team of ambulances” was dispatched, in part because of falling debris.
According to Ghilarducci, the large quake of July 5 did “last for some time. It was felt widely throughout most of Southern California… the shaking intensity was very significant…it was at its highest level in and around China Lake and just adjacent to the town of Ridgecrest. We have significant reports of structural fires, mostly as a result of gas leaks or a line breaks throughout the city. There are also reports of water main breaks. Power is out. Communications are out to parts of the community…as well, in the town of Trona.” He said that was a “small community of about 2,000; there are reports of building collapses and power outages and gas leaks there as well.”
He said over 100 mutual aid personnel were dispatched in support. Trona and Ridgecrest are both very remotely located, he said, on the eastern side of the Sierra. “The roads have been impacted,” he said. “Getting resources into the area continues to be a challenge.”
Ironically, because of the earlier earthquake, a number of resources were already deployed. Priorities are for “medical support, firefighting and emergency power,” he said, adding that the quake happened around 8:20 p.m. “As the day breaks, we will be able to get a better assessment of the total amount of damage,” he said.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Highway Patrol said in a news conference that there were road closures, and officials are checking the structural integrity of overpasses and the like. “The calls for service have dropped considerably,” he said around midnight. “When daylight comes, we will have a much better idea of what is needed.”
Major General David Baldwin, of the California National Guard, said that the military was mobilizing. There would be 200 sustainment troops and aviation assets, he said. “We’ve also alerted the remainder of the California military department… in the event that additional resources are required.” He said he’d also spoken with the Pentagon in case more help is needed.
CalFire officials said that CalFire is prepared to respond with any of the state’s resources that might be needed. Fire potential is pretty low for this weekend, they said.