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Earthquakes rattle Pahrump

Two powerful earthquakes centered in Southern California rattled Pahrump on July 4-5, jarring local residents who reported beds and buildings swaying, chandeliers swinging and electrical outages from the second quake.

At 10:33 a.m. on July 4, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake was recorded in the Mojave Desert’s Searles Valley near Ridgecrest, Calfornia, about 180 miles southwest of Pahrump by car.

The second more powerful quake, magnitude 7.1, was recorded near the same area at 8:19 p.m. July 5.

Both quakes shook Pahrump, Las Vegas and other Nevada communities, including Beatty and Tonopah.

No injuries were reported.

The July 5 quake cut power to an estimated 3,000 Valley Electric Association customers in Pahrump.

“Valley Electric Association has experienced a major power outage in connection with an earthquake in California at approximately 8:20 p.m., Friday,” the VEA said in a Facebook post.

VEA crews restored power later in the evening.

Rock slides were reported July 5 and later cleared on California Highway 127 near Tecopa Hot Springs, the California Department of Transportation reported.

The Nevada Highway Patrol provided an update on roadways in Southern Nevada, stating in a tweet: “There have been no reports of any structural damage to any bridges or overpasses in Southern Nevada.”

Local reaction

Residents took to Facebook to report what they saw in the July 5 quake. Their individual examples included a swinging chandelier, cracks on the outside of a home, water splashing out of a swimming pool and seeing food items fall off shelving at Smith’s grocery store in Pahrump.

“Long lasting and strongest I have ever felt,” Karen Kazinski wrote in a post. “Things in travel trailer shaking and swinging, but no damage. Scary. I lived in San Diego for 20 years and never experienced one this strong.”

Carmen Stoever said in a post that the earthquake “was scary, lasted about 20 seconds and our electricity was out about 40 (minutes).”

“Never in my life experienced an earthquake and that was a 7.1!” wrote Heather Hughes. “I just can’t even describe it. I thought I was imagining it.”

“House was rocking bad! Loudly as well,” she also said.

Claudia Holmes said in a post: “I was laying down in my camper and thought some idiot was pranking me. I hopped out and the other people were outside talking about it. It was making me nauseous … Still feeling tremors in my RV …”

Christina Sonntag reported that she was outdoors when the quake struck. “We were at the launch pads letting off fireworks, we lost power and the ground was shaking and felt like it would never stop it was so crazy. Got very dizzy.”

In Pahrump, Leslie Speakes said in a July 6 email to the Pahrump Valley Times: “Last night after the quake I had brown water come in from my pipes. I’ve never had such a problem before. Now it’s cleared up (after running it) though it may still be non-potable …”

On its website, the USGS said that “groundwater levels in wells may oscillate up and down while seismic waves pass, and in some cases, the water level may remain higher or lower for a period of time after the seismic wavetrain has ended.”

In Tecopa, pictures fell off the walls, Kathy Nixon reported. “A lot of shaking and rolling,” she said in her Facebook post.

July 4 quake

Less than 36 hours earlier, cracking to drywall and stucco was reported in Pahrump from the 6.4 quake July 4.

“Well I felt it, in the 56 years I have lived in this region, I have not felt one this strong,” Barbara Raymond wrote in a Facebook post on the Pahrump Valley Times’ page. “It shook the whole house lamps, blinds, chairs were all swinging.”

Debi Sayer wrote: “We felt it here big time in the middle of town.”

Don Shepherd wrote: “Checked my watch I got 10:36 a.m. here. The whole house was swaying wow looks like no damage.”

Ida Runnels reported that she was at the Roadhouse in Pahrump when the quake occurred. “Everyone was feeling it and waiting to see what we needed to do,” she said in her post. “No problem.”

Vickie Zamzow wrote: “Sitting on my couch and felt it moving about 20-30 seconds. Thought the dog was under the couch, but she was outside.”

The seismology laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno recorded smaller earthquakes closer to Pahrump on July 4.

They included:

Magnitude 4.0, 34 miles southwest of Furnace Creek

Magnitude 3.9, 27 miles south of Furnace Creek

Magnitude 4.3, about 10 miles south of Stovepipe Wells

Magnitude 2.8, about 8 miles southwest of Scotty’s Castle

On July 6, Death Valley roads were “all open and clear after two large earthquakes near Ridgecrest and Trona sent rocks tumbling across Highway 190,” the park reported in a Facebook post. “Aftershocks are expected to continue over the coming days so we’re warning folks to be on the lookout for rocks and debris on any park road.”

The July 5 earthquake was considered Southern California’s strongest in at least 20 years, KABC-TV reported. “Seismologists said on Saturday that they had measured at least 2,600 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 and greater. And by the time they finish analyzing all the data, they’ll expect to catalog 30,000 of 1.0 magnitude or greater.”

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