UPDATE: Wells earthquake felt 250 miles away | SierraSun.com

UPDATE: Wells earthquake felt 250 miles away

Sun News Service

The earthquake that hit Wells, Nev. this morning was felt as far away as Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune (http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8323975)

The magnitude of the quake, initially estimated at 6.3, was later revised to 6.0 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

The temblor, centered in a sparsely populated area 11 miles southeast of Wells near the Nevada-Utah line, occurred at 6:16 a.m. and was felt across much of the West, from northern Idaho and Utah to Southern California, officials said.

“Definitely a lot of people felt this, and if they were sleeping, they were awoken,” said USGS geophysicist Carrieann Bedwell.

At least five less severe aftershocks were reported.

No serious injuries were reported. The most serious damage was reported in the town’s largely unoccupied historic district, Elko County Undersheriff Rocky Gonzalez said.

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Brick facades tumbled off several buildings, signs fell and windows broke, and some vehicles parked on the street were damaged by falling debris, KELK Radio in Elko reported.

Dan Burns, spokesman with the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, said transportation and safety personnel were inspecting roads, bridges and dams in the area for structural damage.

Burns said at least two buildings had partially collapsed, and two main water lines had ruptured.

Authorities blocked off access ramps on Interstate 80 to town 350 miles east of Reno while they surveyed damage to assess any immediate dangers. Train traffic also was temporarily suspended.

“After it happened, we had to make sure that our track was OK,” said Zoe Richmond, spokeswoman for Union Pacific Rail Road. A safety inspection was conducted and operations resumed.

“It was a minor blip in our operation,” she said.

The Flying J Truck Stop was evacuated because of a propane leak, Gonzalez said, but no fires broke out. The leak was contained by midmorning.

Gonzalez said deputies were going door to door to check on residents, and a temporary evacuation center was being set up at the fire station.

A manager at the Flying J said the store was a wreck, with groceries and goods scattered. One woman was reportedly injured when a cigarette rack fell on her.

A man who answered the phone at Wells Elementary School said there were cracks in walls and items were displaced.

“It was pretty bad,” said Jane Kelso, who answered the phone at the Motel 6.

“Everything in our whole building shook.

“We have cracks in our walls.”

In Wendover, Utah, about 60 miles east just over the Nevada line, Tammy Wadsworth was ironing clothes when the quake hit.

“I kept thinking, ‘When is it going to quit?’ A couple pictures fell off the walls,” she said. “One of my grandkids ran outside. They didn’t know what else to do. It scared them.”

Wadsworth is a secretary at Wendover High School, where classes began as usual at 7:50 a.m. MST.

“They did a quick walk around,” she said of school officials. “The school is OK.

Teachers were instructed to talk about the earthquake and tell students what to do if it happens again ” or if it’s worse.”

Tony Lowry, an assistant professor of geophysics at Utah State University, said the size of the quake and its location was unusual.

“It’s not common at all,” Lowry said. “In that part of Nevada, I don’t think we’ve seen any like that in the last 150 years or so.

“It’s not one of the places we would’ve looked or expected.”