Emergency crews on standby after Calif. earthquakes

There have been thousands of aftershocks after the recent 7.1 and 6.4 magnitude earthquakes


By Richard K. De Atley
San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

RIDGECREST, Calif. — Emergency fire crews and equipment from around the state will remain on standby in the Ridgecrest area for the near future, “in case something happens,” Kern County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dionisio Mitchell said Sunday.

The area was rocked Friday by a 7.1 temblor centered roughly 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, near where Thursday’s 6.4 magnitude quake hit, the USGS said. There have been thousands of aftershocks.

A firefighter looks over a home that burned after a earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A firefighter looks over a home that burned after a earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The quakes threw items from shelves and caused fires and buckling at some homes. No deaths or major injuries were reported.

Several agencies were on hand to answer residents’ questions Sunday afternoon at a town hall meeting in the Kerr-McGee Community Center, where a Red Cross shelter served 340 people since it opened on Thursday.

Sunday inspections of infrastructure showed the Ridgecrest’s roads, sidewalks and water systems were in good condition, Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said.

There were no representatives from nearby Trona, located in San Bernardino County, at the morning news conference. Ridgecrest, with a population of 29,000, is in Kern County.

“We’re still struggling in Trona proper,” Regina Troglin, a resident of the town with a population of fewer than 2,000, said Sunday. The water system was still down, and power was sporadic but expected to return, she said.

Southern California Edison maps Sunday afternoon showed power was back for its grid in the town. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday its deputies continued to patrol in the area.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said at the town hall meeting Sunday the boil-water only rules remained in force for Trona.

“We don’t have information on when the water system will be back up; we understand the damage is extensive; it’s going to take some time, and even after that you’re going to have to boil water for a while longer until the pipes flush,” Wert said the county would continue supplying bottled water to the community.

Troglin said that while officials urge money donations rather than sending material items for quake victims, the needs in Trona are different, Troglin said. “Lots of people are asking about food because they don’t have vehicles,” she said.

Churches in the town have been accepting and distributing food donations, she said, and those with cars have been making deliveries to neighbors who don’t.

Wert told the gathering that starting Monday the county will provide daily free transportation from Trona High School to the Red Cross center in Ridgecrest, where meals are being provided, starting at 10 a.m. Monday.

Authorities also said they would provide counseling to people who are under stress because of the earthquakes.

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in that city, closed since the July 4 earthquake, re-opened Sunday following a state inspection, the hospital announced. It had experienced water leaks, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Andrew Freeborn said previously.

The hospital said on its web site all of its departments except urgent care had resumed normal hours, and that department should re-open Monday.

The China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station also remained closed to all but “mission essential personnel,” with no change Sunday to that earlier announcement.

Residents were going to get an email address and other information on Sunday to start a survey for damage to buildings in the city, which was still under assessment Sunday, McLaughlin said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom. who declared a state of emergency, said Saturday that federal aid was expected.

“Things are starting to slow down, which is nice,” Mitchell said, adding that some Kern County units that went to Ridgecrest have now returned to their home stations.

Still, about 107 special operations crew members from eight fire departments, along with state Office of Emergency Services equipment, remained on standby in the city on Sunday. Departments that sent mutual aid included Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

“We transitioned, we’re kind of waiting (to) see what’s going to happen, but we do have personnel here, ready to go, in case something happens,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the Unites States Geological Survey, said Sunday that the number of aftershocks will go down after time, “but not the magnitudes!”

She noted that “large, late aftershocks show up in most sequences.”

The last magnitude-5 aftershock for the 1994 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake was in 1997, she said in a tweet.

There was another warning for area residents. “There are places where the ground has broken open, and we’re seeing some startling images of people actually putting themselves or their hands or feet into the cracks,” said Megan Person, Director of Kern County Communications.

“Even as amazing as it looks, don’t put yourselves in harm’s way. That’s unstable ground,” Person said.

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©2019 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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