An earthquake rocked Texas and New Mexico Thursday night, triggering small fires, cracking plaster and jolting residents.
No injuries were reported, but a heavy volume of telephone calls and possible damage to equipment made communications difficult in a wide area of western Texas.
The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6, was felt as far north as Roswell, N.M., and as far south as San Antonio, according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.
It was centered about 20 miles east-southeast of Alpine and hit at 5:33 p.m. PDT, a spokesman said.
“We’ve had some reports of some slight damage, cracked plaster and broken windows in Ozona, Texas, and also in the Pecos, Texas, area,” said Bruce Presgrave, a geophysicist and seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Broken gas mains started some fires in Brewster County, said a Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman.
Dave Rohr, chairman of the geology department at Sul Ross University in Alpine, said he and his wife were at home cooking when the temblor hit.
“It was like a sonic boom that didn’t quit for a couple of seconds,” Rohr said. “Initially, we felt more of the noise of things shaking, but it just continued. We said, ‘Earthquake!’ and just ran out the back door.”
Alpine, a community of about 6,000 people, is 190 miles southeast of El Paso.