A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Southern California on July 5, 2019, following on the heels of the massive Fourth of July quake. The quake was felt as far away as Los Angeles but was, again, near the 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.
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.”
Kern County Fire Chief David Witt reported on July 6 that there were, thankfully, no deaths, major injuries or major collapses of buildings in Trona or Ridgecrest, the two hardest hit areas. Witt said there is damage, but authorities were still assessing the degree of it. Photos in Trona showed structural damage to homes, however, and the community was without electricity or running water on July 6.
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 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.
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. 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.
Huge 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 they 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.
Asked about his reaction to another quake, Witt 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 effects of the quake were captured on live TV:
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.
Here’s what you need to know:
Even the Los Angeles Dodgers Felt the July 5 Earthquake
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.”
According to KTLA, “the preliminary magnitude of tonight’s earthquake near the Searles Valley is now listed by the USGS as 6.9. The quake was far shallower than the previous 6.4-magnitude and 5.4-magnitude foreshocks in the same area.”
Photos of damage from the July 5 earthquake hit social media. “My family was able to make it to Ridgecrest. Cops are assisting people out of the town. You have to drive slow. But they just aren’t letting people IN,” wrote one Twitter user.
People took to Twitter express their fears and share videos.
Thankfully, there were no serious injuries from the earlier quake. The reports from the July 5 quake are still unfolding (and this post is being updated as they are.)
You can see more data and maps on California quakes here. You can see the USGS interactive earthquake map here. Whether there are casualties is not yet clear, according to The Los Angeles Times. You can listen to dispatch audio in Kern County here.
The July 4 Quake Caused Property Damage in Ridgecrest, CA But No Serious Injuries
It’s all made for a frightening few days in South California – and, especially, in Ridgecrest. An after-shock also hit in the middle of a Kern County press conference after the July 4th quake. You can watch that video above.
The Ridgecrest, CA police chief said, referring to the earlier quake, that authorities were “inundated with calls, with fires, obviously stores that were shaken with stuff falling off the shelves and various items falling…” Authorities reported multiple minor injuries in that community as a result of the quake.
“I was laying down in my bed and I had my feet on the wall and I felt like both of the sides of the house were moving and shaking…” said Edith Mata, a student at Bakersfield College, to the Times after the first quake.
According to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the July 4 quake had these attributes: “M 6.4 – 12km SW of Searles Valley, CA. 2019-07-04 17:33:48 (UTC) 35.705°N 117.508°W8.7 km depth.”
According to KTLA, people felt the earlier quake as a “long, rolling motion,” for about 20 seconds. ABC 11 reported that objects shook and were knocked to the ground at Ledesma Chiropractic in Ridgecrest. Video showed items kicked over in a liquor store. According to USGS, people also felt the quake in Sacramento, Reno, Las Vegas and Tijuana.