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San Diego avoids major damage from two large quakes

Posted at 6:40 AM, Jul 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-07 09:46:02-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County escaped damage from a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the same Mojave Desert area where a 6.4 quake struck a day earlier, but seismologists said today the danger is not yet over, with a number of aftershocks expected during the next several days with the possibility of another sizable temblor.

No teams from San Diego County were dispatched to the Kern County city of Ridgecrest to help assess damage to homes and businesses following Friday night's magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

At the San Diego International Airport 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 airport CEO Angela Shafer-Eayne.

RELATED: Examining San Diego's fault lines after Ridgecrest earthquake

In addition, structural inspections inside the terminals for damage were conducted. The inspections of the runway and terminals did not cause any flight delays Friday night, Shafer-Eayne said. A San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman said 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.

The powerful quake struck about 8:16 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 U.S. Geological Survey.

Many aftershocks followed, the majority between magnitude 3 and 4. The USGS estimated a 3% chance of another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater striking the region within the next week. The chance of a quake of magnitude 6 or higher was estimated at 27%, and it is most likely that as many as two such quakes will occur.

RELATED: Ridgecrest's earthquakes didn't happen along the San Andres fault

The chance of a magnitude 5 or higher quake is 96%, with as many as eight likely to occur, the USGS said. Seismologists say they anticipate between 240 and 410 quakes of magnitude 3 or higher.

"Prepare yourself for the next week to two weeks, this isn't going to stop in the near future,'' Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin told residents late Friday night. Only minor injuries, "cuts and bruises,'' were reported in Ridgecrest.

The city's water system is intact without contamination and the hospital is under a "shelter in place'' order until the integrity of the building can be assessed, McLaughlin said. 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. Gov. Gavin Newsom surveyed quake damage in the Ridgecrest area on Saturday and said he discussed the situation with President Donald Trump.

RELATED: Was Friday's 7.1M quake 'The Big One?' Seismologists say maybe

Newsom has 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.

The state is also coordinating mutual aid to local first responders, Newsom said. "I have all the confidence in the world that the president will be forthcoming in immediate terms with the federal declaration,'' Newsom said during a news conference following his tour. "We don't agree on everything, but one area where there's no politics, and we (have) worked extraordinarily well together is on emergency response and recovery, and increasing that emergency preparedness.''