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Public Health and Safety

Inland Empire Avoids Major Damage From Two Large Quakes

   RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Most of the Inland Empire escaped damage from a magnitude 7.1
earthquake in the same Mojave Desert area where a 6.4 quake struck a day
earlier, but seismologists said today that the danger is not over yet, with a
high number of aftershocks expected over the next week.
   Two California Office of Emergency Services engine crews from the
Riverside City Fire Department were deployed to the Kern County city of
Ridgecrest to help authorities there in assessing damage to homes and
businesses following Friday night's magnitude 7.1 earthquake.
   The powerful quake struck about 8:16 p.m. Friday, about 9 miles west-
southwest of Searles Valley in southwestern San Bernardino County, 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 Riverside County.
   Many aftershocks followed, the majority between magnitude 3 and 4. The
USGS estimated a 3% chance of another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater
striking the region within the next week. The chance of a quake of magnitude 6
or higher was estimated at 27%, and it is most likely that as many as two such
quakes will occur. The chance of a magnitude 5 or higher quake is 96%, with as
many as eight likely to occur, the USGS said.
   Seismologists say they anticipate between 240 and 410 quakes of
magnitude 3 or higher.
   ``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.
   On Saturday, Caltrans reported that all roads near the quake area were
open, including State Route 178, which re-opened after emergency temporary
repairs.
   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.
   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.
   In Ventura County, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake was declared
not mission-capable, according to a post on the base's Facebook page, although
it remained accessible for mission-essential personnel only.
   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.
   Newsom arrived in Ridgecrest later Saturday to inspect the damages,
and told reporters that he had spoken to President Donald Trump by phone and
was assured that the federal government would provide all the help the state
needed.