April Rodriguez was at home in Trona when she felt a smaller quake followed by a larger one "that didn't stop", she told CNN.
The fire department in Kern County, which encompasses Ridgecrest, reported it was "working almost 2 dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city" and that evacuations were underway at the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.
A large natural disaster has hit the California coast, the U.S. Geological Survey says.
"We feel we are going to have the upper hand on this", said Kern County fire Chief David Witt.
In downtown Los Angeles, numerous residents described the rattler as intense.
Several apartment buildings, as well as the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, were evacuated as a result of the quake, the Kern County Sheriff's Office said.
Gleason did not say what the structural issues were.
This included "buildings with minor cracks; broken water mains; power lines down; rock slides on certain roads", but no injuries or fires.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist and founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science & Society, said it was the strongest quake to hit the state in 20 years.
Many people across the state and the United States were out celebrating Independence Day.
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Emergency services are dealing with a number of fires in Southern California after the region was hit by its worst natural disaster in 20 years.
The last time Southern California felt an quake of this strength was on October 16 1999, with a magnitude of 7.1.
Though California is the most-populous state in the U.S., the quake was located in a sparsely populated portion of the Mojave Desert.
She says it was vigorous aftershock sequence occurring and that she wouldn't be surprise if a magnitude 5 quake occurred during the aftershocks. Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said firefighters responded to five fires, while broken gas lines were being attended to by utility workers.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the Los Angeles area, which is about 125 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Ridgecrest.
The area is associated with the Eastern California Shear Zone and has suffered natural disaster swarms in the past, including a series of some 2,500 tremors over the course of five weeks in the summer of 1995.
An natural disaster that struck Thursday morning in the Mojave Desert rattling a large swath of Southern California was also felt in neighboring Nevada. "For the people that are nearby, we don't yet really know what the damage level is", says Jones. A large crack on Highway 178 near Trona was filled in by Caltrans crews within about an hour, a California Highway Patrol commander said.
The quake struck near the city of Ridgecrest and the US Navy's China Lake weapons testing range.
People from the desert to the Pacific coast in Southern California reported feeling it.