Western Montana gets rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake

The quake is the largest to hit western Montana in almost 60 years, said USGS geophysicist Robert Sanders, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Jeremy Morrow | Jul 10, 2017

A rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook western Montana early Thursday morning, according to local reports. The temblor knocked items off shelves but caused no real damage.

The quake, which occurred at 12:30 a.m. and measured at a magnitude of 5.8, had its epicenter about six miles south of Lincoln, according to an initial report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Some nine aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.9 to 3.1 were recorded during the hour following the initial quake. Although about 1,350 homes temporarily lost power, crews were able to restore it in less than an hour, a report by the Independent Record said.

"It slopped all the grease outta the fryer," said Lisa Large, a bartender in Lincoln, in the report. "The kitchen's a mess right now. The lights have been out and they just came back on. Hopefully we don't get any more aftershocks."

The quake is the largest to hit western Montana in almost 60 years, said USGS geophysicist Robert Sanders, according to The Los Angeles Times. It struck in the region of the Lewis and Clark fault line, which runs from northern Idaho to east of Helena, Montana, and was felt as far away as Spokane, Washington, and Boise, Idaho.

"It's not impossible, but it is a very rare event," Sanders said.

Montana experienced its largest temblor on record in 1959, when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the ground just northwest of Yellowstone Park. It caused a massive landslide that dumped 37 million cubic yards of broken rock into the Madison River, blocking its flow for three weeks and forming a six-mile-long lake called Earthquake Lake. At least 28 people are thought to have died in the landslide.

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