Saturday morning's earthquake rattled Bartlesville residents out of bed. The epicenter was just 55 miles away.
Local residents were jostled out of their beds early Saturday morning as a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck near the Osage County/Pawnee County line.
The temblor tied for the largest earthquake in the state since another 5.6 magnitude hit central Oklahoma in 2011.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck just before 7:03 a.m. Saturday, eight miles northwest of Pawnee, just south of the Osage County line. The epicenter was 55 miles from Bartlesville and was felt all over the region.
Washington County Emergency Manager Kary Cox was out of town when the quake hit, but said he has been in contact with Bartlesville City Manager Ed Gordon, Washington County Commissioners and area first responders.
“There were no significant damages or injuries that we know of locally,” Cox said. “For the most part, just reports of windows rattlings. A few people have reported that they have new cracks in their plaster or rocks, things like that. Nothing significant locally.”
Kathy Keim, owner of Divine Escape in Bartlesville, said she had a shelf of merchandise fall over at her store, located at 119 SE Washington Boulevard, but no other major damage. Others in the Bartlesville area reported some new cracks in sidewalks, driveways and patios, according to messages sent to the Examiner-Enterprise’s Facebook page.
Cox said city crews went to check the water treatment plant and facilities at Lake Hudson, but no major concerns were reported.
“It’s not unlike any other event. We try to be aware of any damages or damaged areas in the county,” Cox said. “If it looks like there could be any significant damages, then we will send a team out that will actually do an assessment. We did not determine any areas that warranted that after the earthquake.”
In other areas of the state, officials from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office surveyed areas for damage.
According to ODOT, all bridges on the state highway and turnpike system are open to traffic and safe for travel after inspecting 180 state bridges following Saturday’s shake-up. ODOT has a policy to inspect state highway bridges anytime there is an earthquake of magnitude 4.7 or higher. The department inspected bridges across six counties within a 30-mile radius of the epicenter.
“We are pleased with the speed and efficiency of our crews in their response to this event and dedication to ensuring public safety,” Mike Patterson, ODOT executive director, said. “We offered bridge inspection assistance to cities and counties within the 30-mile radius and in a few instances our offer was accepted.”
State of emergency declared
Following Saturday’s quake, Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County. Fallin praised state and local officials for the quick response to assess damage in the area.
According to reports, a wall outside of a 100-year-old bank in Pawnee collapsed and two people were slightly injured. One person was injured while protecting his children when the brick from a fireplace collapsed on the inside of a Pawnee County home, reports indicate.
“I’m glad to hear no one was seriously hurt in today’s earthquake and damage appears to be limited,” Fallin said. “This emergency declaration will start the process to helping individuals, families and businesses impacted by the earthquakes and serves as a precursor to requesting any necessary assistance.”
Fallin’s executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal aid should it be necessary.
Under the executive order, the state of emergency lasts for 30 days. Additional counties may be added if needed.
Corporation Commission shuts down disposal wells
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Division also announced the agency was notifying area disposal well operators near the epicenter to begin shutting down the wells after the earthquake.
According to OCC spokesman Matt Skinner, the mandatory shut down includes all disposal wells within a 725 square-mile area. However, the area includes 211 square miles in Osage County, which the Corporation Commission has no jurisdiction over.
Because Osage County’s borders are all within the Osage Nation reservation, drilling rights and regulations are controlled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Skinner said the Corporation Commission will work with federal regulators within Osage County.
“The action in the area will involve a total of 37 wells,” Skinner said. “The schedule for shut down will vary according to the well, but all wells will be shut down within 10 days. The schedule is necessary because of warnings from seismologists that a large scale, sudden shutdown could cause an earthquake. (The Corporation Commission) is working with the Environmental Protection Agency, which has sole jurisdiction over disposal wells in Osage County. The EPA will determine what action to take in that area.”
Fallin and state emergency management officials are asking residents to submit photos of earthquake damage to their homes or businesses through the OK Emergency mobile application. The OK Emergency app is available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices as well as any other smartphone, tablet or computer through the mobile site: www.emergency.ok.gov.
EE Assistant Editor Kelsey Walker contributed to this report.