Near epicenter of California earthquakes, some live in fear

Residents living near the epicenter of two earthquakes that hit Southern California last week are still living in fear.

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake rattled the region Thursday, followed by a 7.1-magnitude quake just a day later. Intense shaking inside sent anything not tied down flying. Outside, the quake tossed cars around, sloshed water out of pools, broke apart Highway 178 and created a huge crack along the desert floor.

In Trona, the Byrd family told CNN they slept outside in the desert rather than inside for a few nights.

“We thought it was safer that way because they said another one was coming,” Kay Byrd told CNN. “If it was worse than that one, you definitely didn’t want to be in our house.”

Brooke Thompson, Byrd’s granddaughter, told CNN she had to escape through the window of her home in Trona. The damage inside the young girl’s home left her in awe.

“It looked like a tornado came into our house and just had a party,” she said.

The earthquakes frightened Trona resident Sheleagh Law so much that she considered leaving town with her two special-needs sons.

Law said she has “zero desire to come back” to live in Trona, but she’s optimistic about staying in California.

“You can’t run around scared or live your life scared,” she said. “You have to be a realist.”

In Ridgecrest, the largest town near the epicenter, residents had the quakes to worry about, but the most visible damage came from the fires that took place after. Over the weekend, four structure fires were reported within about 14 hours, something that is unusual for the town of about 28,000.

Bob Bloudek told CNN he watched his neighbor’s home burn down.

“I looked up and the flames were already shooting out of the window,” he said, adding that the quakes also made him think of leaving his home of 30 years. “I didn’t know if we were going to get out or not, I didn’t know if we were gonna make it.”

There were no fatalities or major injuries in either earthquake.

State Gov. Gavin Newsom said that a state-wide early earthquake alert program will be coming out “shortly,” after residents were not alerted via the ShakerAlertLA app during the two quakes. The app is supposed to alert residents when a 5.0-magnitude or greater earthquake is detected. However, officials said it was because epicenter was in Kern County, over 100 miles north of Los Angeles, where the shaking was much less intense.