Thursday, July 4th 2019, 4:19 pm - Local emergency agencies have been flooded with phone calls
A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern California on Thursday afternoon, which is the largest earthquake to hit the region in decades.
The epicentre of the earthquake was located in the Searles Valley, which is a remote area of San Bernardino County approximately 160 kilometres from Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times reports that this earthquake is the largest that southern California has experienced since 1994, when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck in Northridge where dozens were killed and billions of damage occurred.
Reports indicate that approximately 30 seconds of shaking were felt in Los Angeles.
The earthquake was quickly followed by several smaller aftershocks in the area and there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The Kern County Fire Department released a statement on Twitter explaining that they were working on "nearly 2 dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest," which were likely started by broken gas lines during the shaking.
USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said on CNN that the area would be hit by many more aftershocks in the coming days, and could even be hit by a larger quake.
Earthquakes in California are common as this region is located the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a geographic zone that is characterized by earthquakes and volcanoes.
Richard Aster, Professor of Geophysics, Colorado State University has stated that California is actually in an earthquake drought and has not experienced a major earthquake event with a magnitude of 7 or greater in more than 100 years.
A recent study published by the US Geological Survey (USGS) states that the earthquake drought in California over the last century has not happen at any other time in the last thousand years, and the odds of this occurring is only 0.3 per cent.
Given the lack of recent earthquakes, the USGS study suggests that the next century in California could be a "busy one" since many areas along the San Andreas Fault have accumulated significant stress that is powerful enough to produce a large and damaging earthquake.
Check back as this story is updating.