A B-2 taxis after landing July 17, 2014, at US Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. The July 5, 2019, earthquake reportedly damaged the tower at Plant 42, prompting a response from airmen at nearby Edwards AFB, Calif. Air Force photo by Jet Fabara.
Airmen at Edwards AFB, Calif., assessed damage at their base before going to help nearby NAWS China Lake after two major earthquakes struck about 150 miles north of Los Angeles on July 4 and 5.
The July 5 earthquake damaged the tower at Plant 42, a facility used for NASA operations and Air Force maintenance and testing. Edwards crews responded to stand up air operations at the plant over the weekend, Brig. Gen. John Teichert, commander of the 412th Test Wing, said July 8.
A July 5 earthquake, the larger of the two, measured at magnitude 7.1 and was centered about 11 miles from the city of Ridgecrest, where many Edwards and China Lake personnel live. Another magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook the area on Independence Day. Edwards officials ensured that base personnel who lived in the affected area were safe, and “fortunately, they were,” Teichert said.
On July 5 and 6, Edwards fire and rescue crews deployed to NAWS China Lake to help with the initial response. Later, structural, electrical, and plumbing crews helped assess and address the infrastructure at the Navy base. Edwards initially expected to serve as a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but they decided to use Bakersfield, Calif., Teichert said.
Teichert said in a video posted on social media that Edwards firefighters, security forces, and civil engineers immediately sprung into action to make sure both Edwards and Air Force Plant 42 were safe and secure before reaching out to China Lake. The earthquake prompted an evacuation and a halt in operations at the Navy base.
“NAWSCL is not mission capable until further notice,” the Navy said in a July 7 Facebook post. “The base continues to assess damages to infrastructure aboard the installation and continues to allow access for mission essential personnel only.”
The earthquakes prompted California to activate hundreds of National Guard troops, along with aircraft, to bolster the response, according to the Associated Press.