The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Southern California Friday morning caused the evacuation of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, reported Sunday.
The major weapons research and development station, located in the Mojave Desert and the Navy’s largest landholding, was determined to be in the epicenter of both of the weekend’s heavy quakes. In the Ridgefield, Calif., area, where seismologists later identified as the epicenter of the earthquake activity, officials said they are continuing to assess the damage, according to the report.
In a Facebook post after both earthquakes had occurred, base officials said that the installation was “not mission capable” and that nonessential workers were evacuated and operations were halted.
Navy Region Southwest had authorized the installation’s evacuation shortly after the second quake’s larger tremors prompted officials to determine the base’s operations were fully disrupted, Stars and Stripes reported.
The larger quake was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest, the same desert location of Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude earthquake. The quakes caused cracked and burning buildings, broken roads, obstructed railroad tracks and leaking water and gas lines.
Naval Weapons Station China Lake is approximately 150 miles north of Los Angeles. With its two R&D ranges and main site, the massive installation covers more than 1.1 million acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, according to the installation website.
The Friday morning earthquake was Southern California’s largest in nearly 20 years. The California National Guard sent 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, according to Maj. Gen. David Baldwin. The Pentagon had been notified and California’s Military Department was on alert, he said.