IDAHO – A 4.9 earthquake shook a sparsely populated part of Idaho on Saturday but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, authorities said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit just after 6 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) and was centered just 9 miles from Challis, a town of about 1,000 and the largest city in Custer County. It was a shallow quake, centered just 3.1 miles deep, the USGS said on its website. A dispatcher at the Custer County Sheriff’s Office said items fell from shelves there but no damage or injuries were reported. Challis is about 120 miles northeast of Boise and 130 miles southwest of Butte, Mont. A 1983 quake in the region, measured at 6.9 on the old Richter scale, killed two children in Challis and damaged a couple hundred homes and commercial buildings, most in the town of Mackay to the southeast.
“There have been nine other events of a similar magnitude of the 4.5-5.5 magnitude in the last 31 years,” USGS geophysicist Dale Grant said from Golden, Colo. “There are hot springs all over the state, and any time there are hot springs there is seismicity in the area.” It’s the second quake to hit the state in 48 hours. On April 10, a 4.1 magnitude earthquake struck the same region. USGS geophysicist Dale Grant says the earthquake was “kind of an unusual occurrence” being the first one of its strength in the area since 2005. Custer County sheriff’s dispatcher Liz Preston says besides “things falling off walls and a lot of scared people,” no one was hurt. She says the area has had some quakes lately, but this one felt “pretty big” compared with the others. She says the office shook, including the windows and computers. The earthquake struck west of the Yellowstone caldera, and though unrelated, is sure to ignite more curious discussions as to why this region of the country is suddenly starting to experience more earthquakes. Extinction Protocol