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6.4-magnitude earthquake shakes Southern California

By Jonna Lorenz & Darryl Coote

July 4 (UPI) -- A 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook Southern California on Thursday morning in the Mojave Desert about 120 miles from Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake struck at 10:33 a.m. PDT, 11 miles northeast from Ridgecrest and 62 miles northwest of Barstow, the USGS reported. It was 6.6 miles below the surface in the Searles Valley, a remote area of Kern County. It was felt as far away as Long Beach and Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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President Donald Trump tweeted a response saying, "Been fully briefed on earthquake in Southern California. All seems to be very much under control!"

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter that he had declared a state of emergency, ensuring all resources were made available to Kern County.

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The earthquake was the largest to hit Southern California since 1999, when a 7.1-magnitude quake hit the Mojave Desert.

Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said there were minor to moderate injuries sustained by a few residents in Ridgecrest.

"But with the magnitude, we were very grateful that there was such a very limited amount of injuries and damages -- there's minor to moderate damage to structures in Ridgecrest," he said.

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No fatalities were immediately reported

The local dam at Lake Isabella had been inspected by the Army Corps and was "secure," he said.

"We feel comfortable with that situation."

Structure fires were reported in nearby Ridgecrest along with damage to roads.

The Kern County Fire Department said on Twitter that it was working on more than two dozen incidents in and around Ridgecrest "ranging from medical assistance to structure fires." The department also confirmed evacuations at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

Fire officials said 15 people were transported from the hospital, which sustained some damage.

Ridgecrest Police Department Chief Jed McLaughlin said in a press conference that they were inundated with calls of fires and damage to stores and they called in help but with it being Independence day the response was "lower than normal."

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Police and volunteers conducted a grid search of streets to check for damaged structures and trapped victims.

The California Department of Transport said a large crack opened up along the SR 178, but has since been filled.

Kern County Fire Department said it has fielded over 160 calls, with most damage sustained being broken gas and water mains and downed powerlines.

There were over 100 aftershocks, Witt said.

The USGS had predicted an 80 percent chance of aftershocks with magnitudes of 5 or higher during the next week and a 9 percent chance of aftershocks larger than 6.4 magnitude.

By midday dozens of aftershocks had been reported, including three above 4.5 magnitude. Earthquakes with 3 or higher magnitudes are strong enough to be felt and those magnitude 5 or higher are strong enough to cause damage.

The Los Angeles Fire Department acknowledged the temblor on Twitter, asking residents not to call 911 "unless there are injuries or other dangerous questions."

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The Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter that the department didn't receive any reports of damage, adding that "This was a strong one and a good reminder to be prepared."

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