Originally Published: October 25, 2011 10:02 p.m.
PAULDEN - Bill and Wendy Thomas moved from Southern California to Paulden about five years ago to escape earthquakes. On Tuesday, they found out their plan was foiled."I came to Arizona not to go through that again," said Wendy, who lost a lot of her antique plates in the 6.7-magnitude Northridge quake that hit Southern California in 1994. Fifty-seven people died.Tuesday's 11:20 a.m. earthquake near Paulden was only about a 3.2-magnitude tremor on the Richter scale, and experts say one as large as the Northridge is unlikely to happen here during our lifetimes.Bill also happened to turn 67 on Tuesday, so the quake was an odd birthday present."It jolted my house really, really bad," he said. "Somebody's trying to give me a sign or something. I won't forget that date!"Cindy Lamb is another local resident who moved here to escape California earthquakes. She experienced some temblors in San Diego. And her husband Ed, while a resident of Phoenix, was in the middle of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 while on a business trip to San Francisco. He said he worried he wouldn't live through it as huge chunks of glass fell all around him. It hit a 6.9 magnitude and killed 63 people.Both Cindy and Ed were at home on the northwest side of Chino Valley when the quake hit Tuesday."It was a really loud, deep rumble and then it kind of just stopped," Cindy said. "It didn't fade away."It seemed like it was right underneath us, so it was quite scary. We're still scared."Their dogs barked and their birds screeched, Cindy added.Ed said he was outside and at first thought a sonic boom had hit. "It moved me around," he said.Cindy said she also felt what was likely a pre-tremor shock about 4 a.m. Sunday. The Arizona Earthquake Information Center registered a 2.1 magnitude at almost the same location as Tuesday's quake."It woke me up," Cindy said. "I had to hold onto the sheet to keep from bouncing out of the bed."Tuesday's quake felt more like a jackhammer than the wave that earthquakes in San Diego felt like, Cindy added.Luckily, neither the Thomas family nor the Lamb family experienced any property damage Tuesday. Pictures were shaken askew on the walls, Cindy said.No earthquake damage has been reported so far to local government agencies, Yavapai County Emergency Management Coordinator Nick Angiolillo said."We didn't have any damage out here," commented Sherry Bonner of the Paulden Community School. "We felt it and it was odd, because we also heard a loud boom. We had a few kids who were scared and have received several phone calls from concerned parents, but everyone here is OK."Plenty of people about 30 miles south in Prescott felt the quake, too.Business came to a sudden halt on the fourth floor of the Yavapai County courthouse in downtown Prescott, where court proceedings were underway. Daily Courier reporter Scott Orr said he felt violent shaking for about three seconds on that top floor, while a security guard on the entry-level floor told him he didn't feel anything.Chino Valley Fire Department officials said lots of people called to report the quake."The phones have been ringing off the hook for the past hour," Chino Valley Fire Acting Battalion Chief Mathew Mayhall said at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. "A lot of people have been calling asking 'What was that?' while other people who have been through an earthquake have been calling letting us know it was an earthquake."Laurie Whisenand, management assistant for the Chino Valley Police Department, said a number of people called the police department as well."Mostly people said they'd just heard a loud bang, or a building moved," Whisenand said. "There was a little panic and they asked us what it was because they thought it was an explosion."Whisenand said the county, which now dispatches Chino Valley police officers, had taken quite a few calls as well.Chino Valley resident James LeFebvre at first thought something hit his house."It was a low rumble that grew louder, then a thump," reported LeFebvre. "It sounded like the house passed gas." Courier reporters Lisa Irish and Scott Orr, as well as Chino Valley Review reporter Matt Santos, contributed to this report.