San Diego County was shaken but not damaged by Friday night’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake in the Mojave Desert, but seismologists said Saturday the danger is not yet over, with a number of aftershocks expected during the next several days.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated a 3% chance of another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater striking the same region within the next week. Chances of a magnitude 6 or higher were put at 27%, and a magnitude 5 at 96%. In any event, seismologists anticipate hundreds of aftershocks of magnitude 3 or higher.
At the San Diego International Airport on Friday, immediately after reports of the quake were received, the control tower dispatched inspectors in vehicles to check the runway for any damage, according to Angela Shafer-Payne, vice president of operations. In addition, structural inspections inside the terminals were conducted.
The inspections of the runway and terminals did not cause any flight delays Friday night, Shafer-Payne said.
A San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman said that it is standard procedure after an earthquake for firefighters at each station to pull equipment out so that the structures can be inspected for any damage.
No teams from San Diego County were dispatched to the Kern County city of Ridgecrest to help assess damage to homes and businesses from the latest big quake, but fire departments in Los Angeles and Orange County sent crews.
The powerful quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday, about 9 miles west-southwest of Searles Valley in southwestern San Bernardino County, and occurred on the same fault that produced a magnitude 6.4 foreshock on Thursday, according to the USGS.
Luckily, only minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises, were reported in Ridgecrest. The city’s water system was intact without contamination.
On Saturday, Caltrans reported that all roads near the quake area were open, including State Route 178, which re-opened after emergency temporary repairs.
Many residents of Ridgecrest were sleeping outside — fearful to be in their homes — choosing to be with their neighbors in their driveways and in the streets, according to Mayor Peggy Breeden.
“It is not an impossible task to take care of all of this, but it is going to be a larger task than we thought the other day,” Breeden said.
The earthquake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, forcing stoppage of an NBA Summer League game, and at Dodger Stadium, where the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing the San Diego Padres. It was the largest in Southern California since a 7.1 quake in 1999 hit the Hector Mines area of the Mojave Desert.
In Ventura County, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake was declared not mission-capable, according to a post on the base’s Facebook page, although it remained accessible for mission-essential personnel only. Others were ordered to evacuate the area.
Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a presidential emergency declaration for direct federal assistance to further support emergency response and recovery in impacted communities and activated the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to its highest level. Newsom arrived in Ridgecrest Saturday to inspect the damages.
— From Staff and Wire Reports
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