BIG PINE, Calif. – An earthquake that rattled remote towns high in California’s Sierra Nevada on Tuesday afternoon startled residents for miles around California, but caused no serious damage or injuries, authorities said.
The magnitude 4.8 quake struck just after 3 p.m. six miles west of Big Pine, a small community in the eastern side of the mountain range along scenic U.S. Route 395.
The quake nine miles underground in Inyo County hit along the Owens Valley fault line, said Susan Garcia of the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park. The area has experienced eight quakes of a magnitude 3 since 1935, and a magnitude 4 hit in 1988.
The initial jolt on Tuesday was followed by a series of six aftershocks over more than an hour, the largest a magnitude of 4.3, Garcia said. Residents in Sacramento, Livermore, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and across the state line in Nevada reported feeling the ground shaking.
“I thought something hit our building because there was a loud boom and everything shook for about 4 to 6 seconds,” said Cody Lawson, a dispatcher at the nearby Bishop Police Department. “It hit hard right off the bat.”
Nobody called to report an emergency in the town of about 2,500 residents, he said, adding that some in the dispatch centre where he works sought shelter under their desks. Lawson said he went to a door frame and waited for the shaking to stop.
Minutes after he got back to his desk and answered the phone, he described one of the aftershocks. “It’s not as strong,” he said. “We’re rolling.”
A pre-dawn quake also Tuesday struck just north of Big Bear in the mountains east of Los Angeles. The USGS reported that it registered at 3.8 in magnitude.