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Weapons secure at Southern Calif. naval base but facility evacuated after earthquakes

A "Base Closed" sign is posted outside the main gate to Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake on July 7, 2019 in Ridgecrest, California. NAWS China Lake is currently "not mission capable until further notice" following a series of earthquakes nearby. Non-essential personnel were authorized to evacuate the base due to infrastructure concerns. The base remains accessible only to mission essential personnel. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/TNS)

The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is closed after being damaged by back-to-back earthquakes around Ridgecrest.

The station has been open only to essential personnel since Thursday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake. After Friday night’s 7.1 quake, the facility was evacuated, officials said.

Spokeswoman Helen Haase said the base suffered structural damage, but she could not confirm what buildings were affected.

Engineers are still assessing the structures across the station’s 1.2 million acres. Weapons and ammunition were “checked and secured,” she said, and personnel were evacuated to the naval base in Ventura County.

“We are not mission capable,” Haase said, but added that if personnel need to go on base for an emergency, such as picking up medication, “We’re not going to turn them down.”

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In a Facebook post, the China Lake station said the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the epicenter of the first earthquake was on two faults located on the base. A team of scientists has visited the base to study the seismological impact, according to the Facebook post.

The base restored its water and power as of Sunday. It’s unclear when personnel and their families will be able to return, Haase said.

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© 2019 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.