For the second day in a row, a powerful earthquake shook Southern California on Friday, this one bigger than the previous, knocking out power in the desert city of Ridgecrest and rattling people from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Friday came one day after the most powerful earthquake struck the region in two decades. That one was a 6.4 magnitude.
The epicenter of both was about 10 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, a city of 27,600 about 115 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but rumbling continued intermittently for the next hour or so throughout the region.
Late Friday night, officials were still assessing the damage, but the Kern County Fire Department responded to some structure fires, said Chief David Witt.
“We’re gathering information and we’re going to be actively searching the area, doing grids to see exactly where we’re at,” Witt said, adding that about 1,800 customers had lost power.
The San Bernardino County Fire District tweeted that people were reporting “homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down.”
Emergency assistance was coming from other communities, he said, including Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he activated the state’s Office of Emergency Services at the highest level, and is coordinating mutual aid.
Jan Bennett, interim director of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, said she was at an Elks Lodge when the earthquake hit and “left as the bottles were falling off the shelves.”
Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, tweeted that Thursday’s earthquake was a “foreshock,” to Friday’s and that they occurred on the same fault line.
“You know we say we 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 time,” she tweeted.
Although people in the Los Angeles area felt a prolonged shaking and swaying, there was no significant infrastructure damage or injuries, Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.
Friday’s earthquake struck during a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Dodger Stadium seemed to shake and roll for nearly a minute as the crowd let out a roar.
In Las Vegas, the scoreboard swayed during a summer NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks and the contest was called off shortly afterward.
Seismologists at Cal Tech said Friday afternoon that there had been around 1,400 aftershocks since Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude quake, with 17 of those with a magnitude of 4 or above. A 5.4-magnitude aftershock was recorded Friday morning, seismologists said.
“The fault is growing. We ruptured a piece in the first earthquake, we ruptured a bit more on the 5.4 this morning, and we’re rupturing more now,” Jones said at a news conference Friday night. “It is moving toward the northwest, so away from the metropolitan area as far as we can tell.”
She said more earthquakes could occur, likely in the same area.