Largest earthquake in decades hits Southern California, measuring 6.4 magnitude
LOS ANGELES – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Southern California on Thursday, the largest temblor to hit the region in decades.
The 10:33 a.m. Pacific quake was centered in the Searles Valley, a remote area of Kern County about 100 miles from Los Angeles.
“I was in my kitchen trying to get some coffee and all the windows started rattling,” Emma Gallegos, a 34-year-old journalist in southwest Bakersfield said. “It was just a little bit at first – I thought something was going by, and then I realized all the windows were rattling. It was kind of a long gentle roll and I felt two distinct waves.”
Gallegos said that the dried chilis hanging from a hook on her kitchen wall were all shaking. “It was surreal.”
Others near the epicenter were shocked by the shaking.
“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, so I ran and grabbed my brother and kid and came outside,” said Edith Mata, 22, a student at Bakersfield College. Her son is 3 years old and her brother is 17.
“The neighbors across the street were also outside with their whole family of five people. My kid had no idea what was going on.” Mata said that it felt very “creepy” and that she had never experienced anything like it before.
It was unclear whether the temblor caused damage or injuries. Los Angeles officials said they have gotten no reports of major damage.
The quake was the largest in Southern California since the 1994 6.6 Northridge quake, which killed dozens and caused billions of dollars in damage. But the Northridge quake hit in the center of a populated area, while Thursday’s quake was located far from the metropolitan Los Angeles area.
It was also a relatively deep quake, occurring more than five miles underground.
In the Los Angeles area, the quake was slow and steady, lasting about 30 seconds.
The earthquake was centered 10 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, California, a city of about 29,000 in Kern County mostly known as a small town for skiers and snowboarders headed from Los Angeles to Mammoth.
The earthquake was centered about 90 miles northeast of Bakersfield and 125 miles north of Los Angeles. The earthquake was felt widely throughout the Los Angeles area, said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson.
It’s unlikely there was significant damage in a major urban area given that the earthquake was centered in such a sparsely populated area. The area that ruptured occurred in an area of faults slightly east of the Sierra Nevada. The Little Lake fault is one of them, and it last went through a magnitude 6 earthquake in 1984, Hauksson said.
Local emergency agencies have been flooded with calls, and officials urged that people only use 911 for emergencies.
“We are very much aware of the significant earthquake that just occurred in Southern California. Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 unless there are injuries or other dangerous conditions. Don’t call for questions please,” the LAPD said in a statement.