Officials report no damage, injuries after Wednesday’s quake
Wednesday morning, former Summit County historian NaVee Vernon was at home when she thought she heard someone at the door.
When she got up to answer, she noticed the light swinging across a table in a way it never had before. It startled her and her dog both.
“My dog was looking at the light, barking. I thought I had a ghost, to tell you the truth,” Vernon said, laughing.
An earthquake shook Summit County Wednesday around 7:10 a.m. along with the rest of Northern Utah, emanating from an epicenter about 10 miles west of Salt Lake City in Magna.
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The magnitude 5.7 quake was “moderate to large” as seismic activity goes, according to Christopher DuRoss, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
There were reports of damage to buildings in the Salt Lake Valley, but structures in Summit County appeared to emerge unscathed, said Robert Taylor, Summit County’s chief building official.
Taylor responded Wednesday morning to check three of the county’s most critical facilities, the Sheldon Richins Building in Kimball Junction, the Justice Center near Silver Creek and the Health Department at Quinn’s Junction.
“We just didn’t find anything,” Taylor said. “No indication that our buildings up there suffered any damage.”
The county’s Public Works Department sent employees to check infrastructure around the county after the earthquake, but department head Derrick Radke reported they found no issues with the roads and bridges.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office fielded 15 to 20 calls immediately after the earthquake, Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said, with no reports of injuries or damage.
“Mostly just calling to say, ‘Hey, I felt an earthquake,’” Wright said. “Some asked if we’re going to have another one.”
Wright said the most important thing for people to do in an earthquake is to find a safe spot and stay away from windows, adding that getting underneath a sturdy piece of furniture like a table is advisable. It’s also important that people check their homes after a quake has subsided for possible dangers like broken or leaking gas mains or water lines.
Wright said it’s important people are prepared for emergencies like earthquakes with ample food and supplies and that it’s a good idea to have equipment like fire extinguishers in working order in case a quake causes further damage.
He added that experts warn people not to go outside during an earthquake until it’s safe.
Phil Kirk, a captain with the Park City Police Department, said early Wednesday the department had not received any reports of damage or injuries.
There were reports of damage closer to the earthquake’s epicenter in Salt Lake County and power outages in several areas of the Salt Lake Valley, but Rocky Mountain Power did not report any outages in Summit County associated with the quake.
According to a social media post from Summit County Wednesday morning, the county had surveyed special service districts and municipalities for damage to critical infrastructure and no major issues were reported.
DuRoss, the geologist, said there have been 26 documented earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or greater in Utah since the late 19th century within 155 miles of Wednesday’s quake. It’s the largest in the state since a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in 1992 near St. George.
He said the latest data indicated the quake originated about 5.5 miles below the surface but that it was too soon to know whether it originated from the Wasatch Fault.
The Wasatch Fault is a major break in the earth’s crust, DuRoss explained, that continues from the surface at the base of the Wasatch Range to a depth of about 10 miles, heading west under the surface.
The region is seismically active, DuRoss said.
“Reno is moving apart from Salt Lake City horizontally,” he explained.
There is ample historical evidence of large seismic activity — magnitude 6.5 or above — which is often strong enough to disrupt the earth’s surface.
Large earthquakes occur infrequently, DuRoss said, tending to come thousands of years apart.
According to the University of Utah, there is a 57% probability that a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake will occur in the Wasatch Front region in the next 50 years.
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