(Original Story) 7:16 a.m. — The largest Southern California earthquake in nearly 20 years has jolted a vast area from Sacramento to Mexico, cracking buildings, setting fires, wrecking roads but only causing minor injuries.
The 7.1-magnitude quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centered 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Ridgecrest, the same area of the Mojave Desert where a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit just a day earlier.
Several thousand people in Ridgecrest were without power Friday night, and there were reports of cracked buildings, homes off foundations and fires stemming mostly from gas leaks or line breaks.
With daylight Saturday, new assessments will take place in the hardest hit areas.
While officials did not provide details about the number of injuries, Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said that all had been minor. A shelter in place order was issued at an area hospital as a precautionary measure, he said.
Also a precaution, some hospital patients still hooked to IV’s were wheeled out of the Ridgecrest hospital but then returned inside. The hospital remained on backup power as many throughout Ridgecrest were left in the dark.
Local roads were assessed for damage even as a rockslide closed a state road in Kern County.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom reached out to officials in Washington, D.C. for additional support.
“Earlier this evening I formally requested a Presidential Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal Assistance to further support emergency response and recovery in impacted communities,” he said in a statement late Friday night.
Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said early Saturday that a number of fires had been reported as a result of gas leaks and line breaks.
In the town of Trona, a community of about 2,000 people about 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, there were reports of a building collapse, power outages and gas leaks, Ghilarducci said.
Seismologists warned that large aftershocks were expected to continue for days or weeks.
Residents across the Central Coast reported feeling the shaking but fire officials in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties had no reports of damage or injuries here.