6.4-magnitude earthquake shakes Southern California, U.S. Geological Survey says

Magnitude 6.4 earthquake captured on video in Ridgecrest, Calif.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake rattled the Central San Joaquin Valley on Thursday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey, causing scattered reports of damage, including fires.
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A magnitude 6.4 earthquake rattled the Central San Joaquin Valley on Thursday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey, causing scattered reports of damage, including fires.

An earthquake shook Southern California on Thursday just after 10:30 a.m. local time, with the U.S. Geological Survey estimating it was a magnitude-6.4 tremor.

The rattling was felt from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and from the high desert to Laguna Niguel in Orange County, NBC reports. People as far north as Sacramento reported feeling the quake on Twitter.

The epicenter of the quake was in the Searles Valley in the Mojave Desert, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The Los Angeles Times described the spot as “a remote area of San Bernardino” County and reported that the morning temblor “was the most powerful quake to hit Southern California in years.”

The U.S. Geological Survey originally estimated it was a 6.6-magnitude quake, which would have been the same strength as the Northridge earthquake that struck Southern California in 1994, triggering billions in damage and killing dozens, according to the Times.

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“I was in my kitchen trying to get some coffee and all the windows started rattling,” said Bakersfield journalist Emma Gallegos, 34, according to the Times. “It was just a little bit at first — I thought something was going by, and then I realized all the windows were rattling. It was kind of a long gentle roll and I felt two distinct waves.”

Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist, wrote on Twitter that a 4.2-magnitude foreshock preceded the quake by half an hour.

“This area had lots of M5+s in the 1980s,” Jones wrote.

Jones went on to write on Twitter that the larger quake Thursday morning was “on a strikeslip fault about 10 miles from Ridgecrest. Not the San Andreas fault. It is an area with a lot of little faults but no long fault.”

The Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was being evacuated after the quake, the Kern County Fire Department reported on Twitter.

An evacuation center has been set up in the community of 29,000, with some reports of fires and medical emergencies, KTLA reported.

Experts say California is overdue for a large earthquake. Here are the 5 biggest earthquakes in modern California history.

Emergency responders in the Los Angeles area said they were well aware of the quake and asked that residents only call if they have injuries or other dangerous situations.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported on Twitter that it had not yet received any reports of damage or injuries.

Californians rushed online to share their own reports of the temblor.

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Pretty significant earthquake here in Southern California - 6.4, strongest in years,” wrote sportscaster Skip Bayless on Twitter. “Rocked the house, stuff fell, but no real damage, except to my wife’s, sister-in-law’s and dog’s psyches. They are SHOOK, but OK.”

“yesterday all the dogs in my neighborhood, including my dog, went nuts at the same time - and I said to my husband ‘there’s an earthquake comin,’ “ wrote actress D’Arcy Carden on Twitter. “IM A FRICKIN WITCH YA’LL.”

“just spent the last 20 minutes trying to think of an earthquake joke but then i realized my girlfriend was still hiding under the table,” read another Twitter post.

FEMA explains what you should do before an earthquake happens and when it occurs in an animated video called "When The Earth Shakes."

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.