Nevada highway damaged by largest area quake in 65 years

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TONOPAH, Nev. – The cracked main highway between Las Vegas and Reno reopened Friday, 10 hours after a predawn magnitude 6.5 earthquake that a researcher called the largest to strike the remote area of western Nevada in 65 years.

No injuries were reported, but officials said goods tumbled from market shelves, sidewalks heaved and storefront windows cracked shortly after 4 a.m. People from Salt Lake City to California’s Central Valley tweeted that they felt shaking.

Lights swayed at the governor’s mansion in Carson City, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak told reporters. “It woke me up, so it definitely had an impact,” he said.

Nevada Highway Patrol photos showed cracks on U.S. 95 before crews repaired them about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Tonopah. A detour to State Route 360 had added more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) to motorists' trips.

The vast open range east of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada is seismically active, said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno. He ranked Friday's event with twin December 1954 earthquakes at Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley. Kent said those temblors were magnitudes 7.1 and 6.8, respectively.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported Friday's temblor struck just east of the Sierra Nevada. It was initially reported at 6.4-magnitude.

It was centered about 4.7 miles (7.6 kilometers) deep, the agency said, and dozens of aftershocks were recorded. Kent said a 5.1 magnitude aftershock struck about 30 minutes after the initial quake.

State troopers and sheriff's patrols from Esmeralda and surrounding Mineral and Nye counties checked highways for possible damage. A sheriff's dispatcher in the historic mining boom town of Goldfield said the 112-year-old Esmeralda County Courthouse escaped damage.