/Earthquake, a 5.7, hits Utah’s Wasatch Front, largest since 1992

Earthquake, a 5.7, hits Utah’s Wasatch Front, largest since 1992

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit the Wasatch Front shortly after 7 a.m., shaking homes from at least Logan and going all the way down to Utah County. It was the state’s largest earthquake since 1992, though at least so far there’s no reports of major collapses.

The epicenter of the earthquake was northeast of Magna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A series of aftershocks hit shortly after that, with the strongest being a magnitude 4. It’s likely there would be hundreds of aftershocks in the days to come, Keith Koper, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations told FOX 13.

(U.S. Geological Survey) This map shows how the earthquake on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 was felt starting with its epicenter in Magna.

He called it a moderate size earthquake, one that hits the state roughly every 10 years.

“This was a big earthquake for us,” Koper told FOX 13, adding that aftershocks could last for weeks.

He said there is a slight increase in the chances that a large earthquake would hit but Koper said it was still a “low probability.”

Rocky Mountain Power is reporting outages for about 55,000 customers in locations spread westward from Salt Lake City and West Valley City to Magna and Station Park in Tooele County.

Beyond power outages, some reported damages to their homes and businesses as pictures fell off walls, dishes out of cupboards and products off of the shelves. Some buildings shedded bricks, including near the downtown mission that serves Utahns who are homeless. The building next to the mission is a construction site that appears to have been damaged.

Gov. Gary Herbert asked the public to avoid downtown Salt Lake City while crews assess the damage. The airport was closed. The Utah Department of Health state lab is currently down, so is the poison control center and the Utah Coronavirus hotline. Salt Lake City hall told employees to stay away. Though the courts are open.

Janis Ferre of Salt Lake City, wrote on Facebook: “It sounded as though our house was stretching.”

Added Holladay resident John E. Henderson: “It felt like somebody picked up my house and dropped it.”

“This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever gotten through in my entire life,” said Griffin Bonacci, who lives in Magna in the area of 7200 West and 4000 South.

He was in bed when the quake struck, “and it kept ramping up and ramping up and ramping up. It was like a bomb went off. And then, all of a sudden, stuff all around my house was just falling everywhere.“

The earthquake hit in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, where many Utahns are hunkering down in their homes, avoiding close contact with others to avoid spreading the virus quickly.

A Smith’s Food and Drug at 4700 S. 4000 West in West Valley City evacuated after the earthquake hit to assess damage, and start cleaning up the items that shook off its shelves.

“We had a lot of seniors in the store at the time. But no one was hurt,” one worker said.

It had opened early to allow senior citizens to shop by themselves, a group most a threat during the coronavirus outbreak.

Across the street at a Rancho market, it looked like most goods had shaken off the shelves and were scattered throughout the store. Workers said it had not yet opened for business, but workers were cleaning and stocking when it hit. No one was hurt.

The last quake of this magnitude hit St. George in 1992, and it was a 5.9, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

“My daughter said, ‘How long do these aftershocks go on for?” said Emily Jensen of Farmington. “And I’m comforting my kids, snuggling in our big beds, social distancing be darned.”

Reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack, Tony Semerad, Lee Davidson contributed to this article.

The Salt Lake Tribune will update this article.

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