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County emergency management officials address earthquake, response

Salt Lake County leaders addressed reporters after the Magna earthquake on March 18, 2020. Photo: Mary Richards, KSL

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County emergency management officials detailed their earthquake response plans Wednesday after a strong earthquake centered near Magna rattled the Wasatch Front.

County officials confirmed there are no fatalities, but a number of damage reports region-wide.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson urged residents to shelter in place.

“We are advising the public to stay off the roads. We want you to shelter in place to allow the emergency crews to do their jobs,” Wilson said.

“We do have a hazardous material event at a warehouse at Kennecott,” Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Peterson said. “Currently, it looks like some chemicals have spilled.”

There were no evacuations related to that chemical spill, but Peterson acknowledged there is a visible, vertical plume related to it.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the county jail suffered some minor damage as well. No inmates or employees were hurt.

“We did put the jail on lockdown and it will be on lockdown until later today. We are not transporting anyone to court,” she said.

Rivera said her officers were on earthquake response mode, but said residents can help by staying home.

“Please go in your homes and stay there,” she said.

Salt Lake County Emergency Management Division Chief Clint Mecham said most of the damage reports seemed to originate in areas west of downtown Salt Lake City: Salt Lake City, Magna, Kearns and West Valley City. However, he expected to learn more as people continue to report conditions.

Mecham also pleaded with area residents not to spread rumors.

“Be sensitive or wary to information coming from unvetted sources. There is a rumor going around that someone is predicting another large quake in 2 hours. There is little possibility of predicting another quake,” he said.


Earthquake preparedness

Utah is “Earthquake Country,” meaning the state is susceptible to earthquakes, especially along the Wasatch Front. It’s important to prepare yourself and your family for an earthquake. Here are some basic tips on earthquake preparedness:

Before an Earthquake

  • Move or secure objects that could fall and hurt you
  • Identify your building’s potential weaknesses and begin to fix them
  • Create a disaster-preparedness plan and have disaster supply kits ready

During an Earthquake

  • Seek cover under sturdy furniture or doorways. As things move, hold on, and move with it.
  • Move away from windows and objects that could fall
  • Move against a wall in the interior of the building, cover and protect yourself