LOS ANGELES (AP) – The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large part of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday. This rattled people due to the holiday and caused injuries and damages in a town near the epicenter, followed by multiple aftershocks.
The earthquake was a 6.4 magnitude quake and struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, and covered about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California.
There were multiple injuries and two house fires that were reported in the town of 28,000 people. Emergency crews were also dealing with small fires, gas leaks and reports of cracked roads, said Kern County Fire Chief David Witt.
Witt said that 15 patients were evacuated from the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital as a precaution and out of concern for aftershocks.
Kern County District Supervisor Mick Gleason told CNN there were some structural issues with the hospital and some patients had to be moved from one ward to another and that others were taken to a neighboring building.
Gleason didn’t say what the structural issues were.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Kern County. The declaration means that the state will help the country and municipalities in it with emergency aid and recovery efforts.
Mayor Peggy Breeden of Ridgecrest applauded Newsom for declaring the emergency. She also noted at a news conference that other nearby governments have offered to help the recovery effort.
President Donald Trump said that he was fully briefed on the earthquake and that it “all seems to be very much under control!”
Police and fire officials said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that they have enough resources so far to meet needs in the wake of the earthquake. Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said at a news conference that “we have plenty of resources.”
California Highway Patrol Lr. John Williams said that officials found cracks on several roads in the county, but overpasses and underpasses are in good shape.
A series of aftershocks included a 4.5 magnitude temblor, according to the United States Geological Survey.
There were no reports of serious damage or injuries in Los Angeles, the department said.
The quake was detected by California’s new ShakeAlert system and it provided 48 seconds of warning to the seismology lab well before the shaking arrived at Caltech in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena but it did not trigger a public warning through an app recently made available in Los Angeles County.
Glenn Pomeroy, the head of California’s Earthquake Authority, said the earthquake is “an important reminder that all of California is earthquake country.”
Pomeroy urged the estimated 2,000 people in the region hit by the quake who have California Earthquake Authority insurance policies to contact their residential insurance agencies as soon as possible. Information on how to file a policy claim is on the agency’s website: EarthquakeAuthority.com, he said.