Los Angeles

Fire-Rescue Teams Deployed to Kern County Following Two Powerful Earthquakes

Urban search and rescue teams from the Los Angeles and Los Angeles County fire departments and Orange County Fire Authority were deployed Saturday morning in Ridgecrest to assist authorities there in assessing damage to homes and businesses following a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

"These veteran LAFD responders are proud emissaries of the people of Los Angeles, and eager to leverage considerable skill in helping the people of Kern County," said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Los Angeles County Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue Team 136 and Hazardous Materials Team 811 were sent to Ridgecrest Friday night, according to Inspector Brian Stevens.

A heavy rescue apparatus and urban search and rescue support vehicle with six firefighters left Friday night for Ridgecrest, the OCFA said.

The powerful quake struck about 8:16 p.m. Friday, about 9 miles west-southwest of Searles Valley and occurred on the same fault that produced a magnitude 6.4 foreshock on Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no reports of serious damage in Los Angeles and surrounding cities.

Many aftershocks followed, the majority between magnitude 3 and 4.

There is a "high probability" of a magnitude 5 or greater aftershock in the next week, seismologist Lucy Jones said. There is a 50% chance of a magnitude 6 or greater quake and about a 10% chance of a magnitude 7 or greater temblor in the next week, according to Jones.

"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.

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.

At least 1,100 Southern California Edison customers in Ridgecrest were without power as of 3 a.m., the utility reported.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported an outage in Encino that was suspected of being quake-related had knocked out power to 1,000 customers.

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.

Cracked buildings and injuries were reported in Kern and San Bernardino counties, ABC7 reported.

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.

The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders, Newsom said.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said there have been no reports of damage on the Metro rail system. Metrolink officials reported delays on various lines due to crews inspecting tracks throughout the system, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Officials at Los Angeles International Airport said there are no initial reports of damage or injuries and no reports of any flight delays.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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