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Home / LAFD

LAFD: 30 years after Northridge Earthquake, prepare for next disaster

Authorities Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake by urging residents to prepare for future temblors and other natural disasters, reminding them of the devastation that resulted from the historic shaker.

The magnitude-6.7 Northridge Earthquake struck in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1994.

After the dust settled, at least 57 people were dead — some put the death toll at 61 — and 11,846 people in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties were treated at hospitals. Property losses were pegged at $40 billion.

It was the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Insured losses were estimated at $12.5 billion. Aid from the federal government was estimated at $13 billion.

On Wednesday morning, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley and other department officials gathered at the John Ruedy Memorial Training Center in Sherman Oaks to look back on that fateful day.

“Today, as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, an event that forever altered the landscape of our great city and the lives of so many, we stand together to reflect on not only one of the most significant events in our city’s history but also on the lessons it has taught us about community preparedness and the critical role of our first responders,” Crowley said.

The fire chief said the earthquake tested the city’s resilience, infrastructure and emergency response capabilities. Crowley said firefighters and first responders risked their lives to save others.

“Our firefighters, paramedics, and Urban Search & Rescue teams worked tirelessly, often in perilous conditions, to bring aid to those in need. Their heroism and selflessness embody the very essence of what it means to serve,” Crowley said.

It wasn’t just first responders. Crowley praised ordinary citizens who stepped up in the quake’s aftermath to help their neighbors and said it was a “true testament to the resilience and compassion of our community.”

Crowley urged residents to “take proactive steps: understand the risks, create a plan, build an emergency kit, and stay informed.”

In Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, a total of 114,039 residential and commercial structures were damaged. But only 9,001 of those were in Ventura County, and just 19 were in Orange County, according to local business departments.

The quake, which struck at five seconds before 4:31 a.m., affected an area covering 2,192 square miles. It was the first temblor to knock out power in every area of the vast metropolis of Los Angeles. The floor of the San Fernando Valley was completely blacked out after the shaking stopped, except for a few fires visible for miles.

In downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Caltrans officials gathered to commemorate the work of “public servants who worked to safely rebuild the highways following the disaster.”

According to Caltrans, the event was to included the opening of an exhibit at the agency’s downtown headquarters documenting the quake and the transportation-worker response, including photographs, historical documents and newspaper clippings.

The exhibit will be open to the public and will remain on display for four weeks.

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