Magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes the Ridgecrest area causing damage, injuries

Associated Press

A quake with a magnitude as large as 7.1 jolted much of California, cracked buildings, set fires, broke roads and caused several injuries, authorities and residents said.

U.S. Geological Survey reported Friday evening's earthquake in Southern California struck the same area as a magnitude 6.4 quake that shook Ridgecrest on Thursday. 

The magnitude fluctuated between an initial 7.1, down to 6.9 and then back up to 7.1 again. It is not clear if this was an issue with the USGS website or if these fluctuations were official. 

It was the largest Southern California temblor in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks.

According to USGS, the earthquake happened at 8:19 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. The earthquake was about 10.5 miles from Ridgewood, a Mojave Desert town 150 miles away from Los Angeles, at a depth of .61 miles.

The quake was felt in downtown Los Angeles as a rolling motion that seemed to last at least a half-minute. Offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds. 

Megan Person, director of communications for the Kern County Fire Department, said there were reports of multiple injuries and multiple fires, but she didn't have details.

The county opened an emergency shelter. Meanwhile, a rockslide closed State Route 178 in Kern River Canyon, where photos from witnesses also showed that a stretch of roadway had sunk.

Officials in San Bernardino County reported homes shifting, foundation cracking and retaining walls coming down. One person suffered minor injuries and was being treated by firefighters, they said.  

Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday's quake hit.

"It just started getting stronger and stronger, and I looked into my house and the lamp started to sway. I could see power lines swaying," he said. "This one seemed 45 (seconds)... I'm still straightening pictures."

Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations center "to its highest level."

"The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders," he said.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology's seismology lab, tweeted that the quake was part of the sequence that produced the earlier quake.

Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department told KNX-AM radio says more than 1,000 firefighters were mobilized, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The press box at Dodger Stadium lurched for several seconds, and fans in the upper deck appeared to be moving toward the exit. Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers was at-bat in the bottom of the fourth when the quake occurred. He stepped out of the batter's box, but it wasn't clear if that was because of the quake.

"Everyone was jumping over us to leave," said Daniel Earle, 52, of Playa del Rey, who was sitting with his wife in the stadium's reserve level.

"People were freaking out," he said. "There was a concession guy, and he actually was really cool because he was really calm. He's like, `Relax. Tranquilo. Relax. Tranquilo,' and people were looking around."

"My wife was holding us, like squeezing. I'm surprised my arm is still here. She was squeezing into it so hard," Earle said.

An NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas was stopped after the quake. Speakers over the court at the Thomas & Mack Center continued swaying more than 10 minutes after the quake.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita said in a tweet Friday night it had stopped running rides in the earthquake's wake.

"The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority and as a precautionary measure, we are conducting an extensive visual, structural, and operational safety checks on all of the rides before re-opening," the park said on Twitter.

Disneyland had evacuated rides as the park conducted safety checks, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. The park's mobile app had marked all rides as "temporarily closed" on Friday night.

The quake came as communities in the Mojave Desert tallied damage and made emergency repairs to cracked roads and broken pipes from the earlier quake.

Hours earlier, seismologists had said that quake had been followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks and that they might continue for years. However, that quake would now be considered a foreshock to the Friday night temblor.

Tweets flew out on social media with people posting that they felt it at Los Angeles International Airport, but also here in the Bay Area, including at SFO International Airport. The earthquake was felt as far away as Las Vegas and in Mexico. 

Vicky Mattson tweeted video from the 17th floor of a building in San Jose. The video shows her light fixture swaying. 

In response to National Weather Service Los Angeles area's tweet about the earthquake, many concluded that the temblor was long lasting and felt awful.  

Many pointed out it was fortunate that Thursday's earthquake, which occurred in the same area, happened in a sparsely populated area. 

This is a breaking news story. 

KTVU contributed to this report.