Sacramento residents report shock waves from south state quake, felt as far north as Chico

Sacramentans are reporting feeling strong reverberations from a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit Southern California on Thursday at mid-morning.

“Holy crap,” Sacramento writer Lisa McMann tweeted. “I felt that earthquake in Sacramento.”

Sactown magazine reported they felt their downtown high-rise shake.

“I thought (I was) imagining things until I logged on twitter. #earthquake,” George Andrews in Sacramento posted.

The temblor struck at 10:33 a.m. near Ridgecrest, about 100 miles east of Bakersfield in Kern County, according to the United States Geological Survey, causing scattered reports of damage, including fires.

Residents as far north as Chico reported feeling the quake, as well as people in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The USGS online quake reporting page indicated that the 6.4 magnitude quake was part of a swarm of more than 100 seismic events that hit near Ridgecrest, on the eastern edge of Kern County on July 4. A spokeswoman for the USGS called it “a fairly significant” seismic event.

The USGS website recorded receiving nearly 40,000 reports in the first 45 minutes after the initial quakes hit from residents saying they had felt the shaking.

USGS seismologist Don Blakeman said it is typical for people hundreds of miles away to feel the ripple effect of a earthquake this size. “That is not unusual at all for a quake this size,” Blakeman said. “This is a large quake.”

Blakeman said there is no way to know if this earthquake portends a larger one upcoming. “No one has the science to predict earthquakes,” he said.

USGS officials said there likely will be aftershocks for weeks to come, but those typically are much smaller in size than the original earthquake. In the minutes after the initial shake on Thursday morning, aftershocks were registering in the 4, 3 and 2 range on the Richter measurement scale.

The state Office of Emergency Services reported it has opened an emergency operations center.

Ridgecrest is a city of 27,000 along U.S. Route 395 in the Indian Wells Valley. The area is described as the Eastern California Shear Zone, and has experienced numerous earthquakes in the past, often coming in swarms. A previous series of shocks hit the area in 1995, the largest of which was measured at 5.8.

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Tony Bizjak has been reporting for The Bee for 30 years. He covers transportation, housing and development and previously was the paper’s City Hall beat reporter.