Rockslide Forces Closure of Kern County Highway Following Magnitude 7.1 Quake; Outages, Gas Leaks, Damage Reported

As officials continued to survey the damage following a powerful 7.1 earthquake that the hit the Searles Valley region Friday night, there were scattered reports of damage around Southern California, including a rock slide closing a highway, outages, gas leaks, fires and several calls of medical aid.

The quake hit roughly 10 and a half miles from Ridgecrest at about 8:19 p.m., the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The region was already dealing with damage from the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck the day before. Gov. Gavin Newsom had declared a state of emergency for the affected area.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities in the region, but there were several injuries reported, Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. “We know that there’s been quite a bit of damage, and quite a bit of impact,” he said.

Many injuries were a result of items falling on people, authorities said.

Cal Fire said units were prepared to respond as needed with any of the state’s resources available, but that as of 12 a.m., the potential for fire is low.

Ghilarducci said that understanding the extent of the damage is difficult because it got dark quickly after the quake struck.

"We’ll get a better understanding when there’s light in the morning," Ghilarducci said.

Gov. Newsom activated the state operation center at highest level, with aid coming in to the affected area from Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno, authorities said.

Kern County

Highway 178  was closed between Bakersfield and Lake Isabella after rocks tumbled down, covering the roadway in Kern River Canyon, according to Caltrans and Kern County Fire Department officials.

There was significant damage across both lanes and severe cracks in the roadway just outside Trona, according to David Kim of the California State Transportation Agency.

Kim said the cracks are very close to where cracks were found yesterday after the magnitude 6.4 quake.

Rockslides were also reported on the southbound SR 190 and on SR 127, but roads were cleared and reopened, according to Caltrans.

A power outage affecting about 1,800 people was reported in Kern County, where officials said there were no reports of majors leaks or a major building collapse.

No serious injuries were reported in the town, Ridgecrest Police Department Jed McLaughlin said. “Nothing but minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises, as the grace of God,” he said.

Two structure fires broke out in the wake of the shaking, which were quickly extinguished by Kern County firefighters, McLaughlin said.

“There were several reports of natural gas leaks at residences,” the chief said. “In fact, we were inundated with that.”

PG&E had repaired all the main gas lines in the city and was continuing to work on repairing the damage to residential lines, McLaughlin said.

There are water main breaks also reported in Ridgecrest.

The city’s water system remained intact and was not contaminated, he said. “So water is good to go.”

The police department was continuing to field emergency calls into the early morning hours Saturday.

“As it slows down, we will transition into other life-saving measured, if needed,” McLaughlin said.

Power and communications are out throughout the community, Ghilarducci said.

“This was a very large earthquake and we know there’s gonna be a series of aftershocks, so we want to prepare ourselves to have the right resources in place," Ghilarducci said.

San Bernardino County

Highway 178 is the access road into the San Bernardino County communities of Searles Valley, Argus, and Trona, authorities said.

Because roads were impacted, getting resources into the area has been a challenge, Ghilarducci said.

Police in Ridgecrest were asking for help bringing bottled water to Trona, which was one of the communities badly hit by the quakes.

In Trona, there were reports of building collapses and power outages, Ghilarducci said.

In northwest San Bernardino County, fire officials reported 911 calls from communities about shifted homes, retaining walls down and foundation cracks. Earlier assessments showed damage was more significant than Thursday's quake.

Some residents were evacuated from their homes after several gas leaks were found in the Trona and Argus areas, San Bernardino fire officials said.

Firefighters worked to secure leaks where possible and evacuated residents in places where leaks could not be secured, authorities said.

No quake-related fires were discovered in in the region but fire crews will continue patrols throughout the night, San Bernardino officials said.

"First light will bring better idea of damage sustained," the San Bernardino Fire Department said in a tweet.

Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles city and county fire departments went in earthquake mode, and both agencies reported no major infrastructure damage or serious injury.

"No reports of serious damage in @LACity related to the earthquake tonight," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a tweet, adding that the city is sending a search and rescue task force team to Kern County to help with the damage.

 

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.