Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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Another Southern California quake, registering at 7.1, shakes Las Vegas


Steve Marcus

Players and staff leave the court after an earthquake during an NBA summer league basketball game between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, July 5, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Updated Saturday, July 6, 2019 | 8:46 a.m.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rattled the Las Vegas area Friday night, the second time in two days that a Southern California temblor has been felt in Southern Nevada, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The quake — preceded by Thursday's 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert — was the largest Southern California shake in at least 20 years.

There were no immediate reports of damage in Southern Nevada.

The National Weather Service confirmed the seismic activity in the valley about 8:20 p.m. The Los Angeles Fire Department said the quake was “felt widely” in that city.

Movement was felt across the Las Vegas Valley, including just west of the Strip at the Orleans, where a few moviegoers rushed out of the theater during a showing of “Yesterday.”

“It was shaking like crazy,” one attendee said.

The earthquake was also felt at the Rio, where players competing in the World Series of Poker jumped from their seats and headed toward the exit. Play was scheduled to resume at 10 p.m.

“So many people playing the Main Event, the ground is shaking,” WSOP officials posted on Twitter. “Players in Flight C are on their dinner break now, cards back in the air at 10pm. Playing 2 hours, 40 minutes without a break, bagging at 12:40am.”

Video recorded from atop the Eiffel Tower viewing deck at the Paris Las Vegas shows concerned visitors as the rumbling intensifies. “Calm down, it’s all right,” can be heard on the video. “Felt that 7.1 from 500ft on top of the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. Whoa. Won’t ever forget that one!,” @The NamesJames posted on Twitter.

A Caesars Entertainment spokeswoman said the High Roller observation wheel and Fly Linq zipline attractions were temporarily closed for inspection following the earthquake, but reopened shortly after.

The Eiffel Tower attraction was also closed for a short time but later reopened.

About an hour after the earthquake, Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel said things had mostly returned to normal in downtown Las Vegas.

“All is calm for the most part,” Jossel said. “A couple of guests panicked and we had some shaking lights, but that’s about it.”

MGM Resorts spokesman Brian Ahern said Friday night there were no reports of evacuations or structural damage to company properties in Las Vegas.

In a text message to the Sun, Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver indicated there were no reports of problems at Wynn properties as a result of the quake.

Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Ann Paladie said via email that the 7 p.m. “Michael Jackson ONE” show at Mandalay Bay was stopped about 10 minutes before its scheduled start. That was done, Paladie said, for the safety of show attendees, cast and crew.

The 9:30 p.m. show, however, went on as scheduled, she said.

No other Cirque shows were affected.

Locals were quick to post videos on social media, showing everything from window drapes and lamps shaking in homes, to the water in backyard pools waving in sequence.

There were no 911 calls related to the jolt in the valley, said Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, calling it a “typical” Friday night.

Nevada Highway Patrol said it hadn't received reports of structural damage to bridges or overpasses in the valley. Motorists who may spot damage were encouraged to report it.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said his office was monitoring any developments in Southern Nevada related to the quake and that his office was “in touch” with corresponding agencies that remained on "high alert.”

The city of Las Vegas asked residents to stop calling 911 to ask if there was an earthquake. The number is for emergencies only, they stressed.

The quake forced the NBA to cancel the finish of two Summer League games, including a marquee sold-out matchup between New Orleans and New York, while engineers checked to see if the integrity of the Thomas & Mack Center on UNLV's campus was compromised in any way by the tremors.

The primary issue at Summer League was the arena's overhead scoreboard, which is suspended from the roof by cables and swayed noticeably when the quake hit. A game between Phoenix and Denver, scheduled for later Friday in the Thomas & Mack, never started and was ultimately canceled — and a San Antonio-Orlando game in the adjacent Cox Pavilion, which does not have an overhead scoreboard, was also halted for precautionary reasons. The Magic were leading 75-59 and were declared winners.

"Safety comes first, second, third," Summer League executive director Warren LeGarie said.

The Knicks-Pelicans game, the NBA debuts for No. 1 pick Zion Williamson of New Orleans and No. 3 pick RJ Barrett of New York, was called with 7:53 left and New Orleans leading 80-74. The NBA later decided that the game would end there, with the Pelicans prevailing.

NBA officials said late Friday they were going forward with the idea that Saturday's games in Las Vegas would be played as scheduled. There was a crack found on the court in the Cox arena, though it was barely noticeable and needed only minor repair.

"I was bringing the ball up, it felt like someone was pushing my hip, like I kind of leaned this way, and I was like 'Oh my gosh, what is going on?'" New Orleans guard Frank Jackson said. "And then I just saw everything shaking."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in town for the NBA Board of Governors meeting, took to Instagram to post a photo of a cocktail with the caption: “When a 7.1 earthquake shakes your room on the 49th floor like the Harlem Shake.”

The Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA had their game against Washington at the Mandalay Bay Events Center suspended. They were trailing 51-36 at halftime. All bets on the game — and the NBA Summer League game that was postponed — will be refunded as no action.

The earthquake paused the UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Palms, where lightweight great Rashad Evans was giving his acceptance speech during the jolt. “Earthquake, baby!” Evans said, according to MMA Fighting. “That’s me bringing that heat.”

The epicenter was again near Ridgecrest, Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Aside from reports of power lines down in multiple Los Angeles neighborhoods and “localized” power outages, there was “no major damage to infrastructure” that had been identified, said the Los Angeles Fire Department on Twitter.

The San Bernardino Fire Department said it was responding to multiple 911 calls and that there were reports of homes shifting and their foundations cracking. There also was a communitywide power outage in Trona, Calif., the agency said on Twitter. One patient was being treated for minor injuries.

State Route 178 at Kern River Canyon, northwest of Bakersfield, Calif., was shut down following a rock slide, according to California transportation officials.

Southern Nevada shook on the morning of Fourth of July, when a 6.4-magnitude quake struck near the rural California town, about 220 driving miles from Las Vegas.

Seismologist Lucy Jones, in a USGS briefing Thursday, said that in the coming days there was a 5% chance that there would be a stronger quake than that day's 6.4-magnitude. On Friday night, she wrote on Twitter that after the latest shaker, there was a 10% chance of an upcoming quake in the sequence measuring at least 7.0.

The Sun’s Mike Grimala, Bryan Horwath and Ray Brewer contributed to this story. The Associated Press also contributed.