A magnitude 6.4 earthquake rattled the Southland on Thursday morning as residents celebrated the Fourth of July holiday.
The quake, which struck at 10:34 a.m., was centered about seven miles southwest of Searles Valley, a sparsely populated part of the Mojave Desert in northwestern San Bernardino County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Multiple aftershocks with a magnitude 4.0 or higher followed.
“The #Ridgecrest earthquake is having a robust afterschock sequence,” Caltech scientist Dr. Lucy Jones tweeted. “There have been 6 M4+ events and ~30 M3+ in the first 90 minutes. That means there will be plenty more aftershocks today.”
According to Jones the magnitude 6.4 temblor hit on a strike-slip fault about 10 miles from Ridgecrest.
“Not the San Andreas fault. It is an area with a lot of little faults but no long fault,” Jones tweeted.
No injuries or damage was reported in Los Angeles County.
Multiple fires and structural damage were reported in Kern County.
According to the Bakersfield Californian, the Kern County Fire Department reported nearly 24 calls to service from fires to medical assistance in Ridgecrest.
“Serious 6.6 earthquake in Ridgecrest, California,” Congressman Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes Ridgecrest, tweeted. “I’m working with state and local officials to assess the damage and provide any support and resources needed. THANK YOU to the many first responders who are already on the scene.”
Multiple injuries and two house fires were reported in the town of 28,000. Emergency crews were also dealing with small vegetation fires, gas leaks and reports of cracked roads, said Kern County Fire Chief David Witt.
He said 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 did not say what the structural issues were.
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said that utility workers were assessing broken gas lines and turning off gas where necessary.
The local senior center was holding a July 4th event when the quake hit and everyone made it out shaken up but without injuries, she said.
“Oh, my goodness, there’s another one (quake) right now,” Breeden said on live television as an aftershock struck.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Kern County. The declaration means that the state will help the county and municipalities in it with emergency aid and recovery efforts.
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden praised 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 he was fully briefed on the earthquake and that it “all seems to be very much under control!”
“We definitely felt it,” Watch Deputy Reddy of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station said.
Reddy said the station received about 10 calls about the earthquake.
The quake was felt in Lancaster, Palmdale, Rosamond and Quartz Hill, according to readers who posted about their experience on the Antelope Valley Press Facebook page.
“Just a little rocking!! Just Mother Nature’s way of saying “Happy 4th of July!!” Thank you Mother Nature!!” reader Rebecca Nichols posted.
“Yes, could have been worse. Was a nice little reminder to always be prepared for an emergency. We got off easy this time,” Erin Lorentsen wrote.
“At breakfast at Easy Egg Cafe in Quartz Hill… we all felt it and it was a looong rolling experience, much like a huge truck driving in the room next door. No one ran outside,” Patsy Cisneros wrote.
California City residents also felt the earthquake.
“We live in California city and it definitely shook our house but no damage,” Nicole Mcclaskey posted on the AV Press Facebook page.
California City Fire Department spokesman Brandon Vaccaro said there were no reports of any damage in California City about nearly three hours after the earthquake.
“We’re just kind of monitoring the situation. We do have crews that we sent from Cal City up to Ridgcrest to assist Kern County with what they have going on up there in the Ridgecrest area. But we have nothing significant going on in the city at the moment.”
“It almost gave me a heart attack,” said Cora Burke, a waitress at Midway Cafe in Ridgecrest, of the big jolt. “It’s just a rolling feeling inside the building, inside the cafe and all of a sudden everything started falling off the shelf, glasses, the refrigerator and everything in the small refrigerator fell over.”
Video posted online of a liquor store in Ridgecrest showed the aisles filled with broken wine and liquor bottles, knocked down boxes and other groceries strewn on the floor. Flames were seen shooting out of one home in the community.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab, said the quake was the strongest since a 7.1 quake struck in the area on Oct. 16, 1999.
“This has been an extremely quiet abnormal time,” Jones said. “This type of earthquake is much more normal ... The long term average is probably once every five or 10 years somewhere in Southern California.”
Jones said that the 6.4 quake centered near the town of Ridgecrest was preceded by a magnitude 4.2 temblor about a half hour earlier.
She said vigorous aftershocks were occurring and that she wouldn’t be surprised if a magnitude 5 quake hit but that they were striking in a remote area, sparsely populated area. “This is an isolated enough location that that’s going to greatly reduce the damage,” she said.
People from Las Vegas to the Pacific Coast reported feeling a rolling motion and took to social media to report it.
Local emergency agencies also took to social media to ask people to only call 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 published on Twitter.
Valley Press wire services contributed to this story.