RIO DELL, Calif. (KRON) — A 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Humboldt County was powerful enough to cause widespread damages to homes, roads, and businesses Tuesday. The epicenter was near Ferndale and local residents described the shaking as “violent.” Photographers entered some of the worst-hit areas to document damages.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services held a press conference at 2 p.m. reporting that at least 15 homes were severely damaged and 18 more homes were moderately damaged. Two people, ages 72 and 83, were killed as a result of the earthquake, officials said.
The predawn quake was followed by more shaking from nearly 80 aftershocks.
Emergency officials received dozens of 911 calls in the wake of the quake. Humboldt OES wrote to the county’s residents on Twitter, “DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING AN IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY.”
Humboldt OES officials wrote, “Damage assessments are currently underway, with significant structural damages, including gas and water lines, observed in the Rio Dell community and moderate damages to properties throughout the Eel River Valley. Power remains off for over 70,000 customers in the county.”
The earthquake hit at 2:34 a.m. near Ferndale, a small community about 210 miles northwest of San Francisco and close to the Pacific coast. The epicenter was just offshore at a depth of about 10 miles.
Humboldt County residents were still experiencing aftershocks Tuesday afternoon, including one 4.6-magnitude aftershock.
The scale of the damages was small when compared to the strength of the quake, according to Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The region is home to redwood tree forests and sparely populated by people.
Damage was mostly focused on the small communities of Rio Dell, Ferndale and Fortuna, Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said.
An earthquake alert was sent 10 seconds in advance to some 3 million Californians. “The system operated as we had hoped,” Mark Ghilarducci, the head of the office, stated. He asked all Californians to download the MyShake app.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.