Another earthquake shakes Southern California, day after most powerful quake in 20 years

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked remote desert communities, where fires, structural damage and minor injuries were reported.

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By Phil Helsel

LOS ANGELES — For the second day in a row, a powerful earthquake shook Southern California.

Friday's 7.1-magnitude quake knocked out power in the desert city of Ridgecrest and rattled people from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

It came one day after the most powerful earthquake to strike the region in two decades. That one was a 6.4-magnitude.

The epicenter of both was about 10 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, a city of 27,600 about 115 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but rumbling continued intermittently for the next hour or so throughout the region.

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Officials were still assessing the damage late Friday but fires, power outages and structural damage were reported.

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.

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.

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.

The quake also set off rock slides, closing several roadways in the remote area, officials said at a news conference.

Emergency assistance was coming from other communities, he said, including Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County.

The governor said he activated the state’s Office of Emergency Services at the highest level, and was coordinating mutual aid.

Warren Cooper, who owns a wrought iron and handyman business in the Ridgecrest area, said his business suffered damage and his mobile home was "destroyed."

"I lost my house today, I don’t know if I can even save it — and it sucks, because I just paid it off," he said.

Jan Bennett, interim director of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, said she was at an Elks Lodge when the earthquake hit and "left as the bottles were falling off the shelves."

Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, tweeted that Thursday's earthquake was a “foreshock,” to Friday's and that they occurred on the same fault line.

"You know we say we 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 time," she tweeted.

Although people in the Los Angeles area felt a prolonged shaking and swaying, there was no significant infrastructure damage or injuries, Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.

Friday’s earthquake struck during a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Dodger Stadium seemed to shake and roll for nearly a minute as the crowd let out a roar.

In Las Vegas, the scoreboard swayed during a summer NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks and the contest was called off shortly afterward.

Seismologists at Cal Tech said Friday afternoon that there had been around 1,400 aftershocks since Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude quake, with 17 of those with a magnitude of 4 or above. A 5.4-magnitude aftershock was recorded Friday morning, seismologists said.

"The fault is growing. We ruptured a piece in the first earthquake, we ruptured a bit more on the 5.4 this morning, and we’re rupturing more now,” Jones said at a news conference Friday night. “It is moving toward the northwest, so away from the metropolitan area as far as we can tell."

She said more earthquakes could occur, likely in the same area.

Dennis Romero contributed.