“Uncommon” earthquake damage discovered at Logan County Jail

UPDATE: Jail officials say all the cracks were determined to be cosmetic and the county is cleared to make the minor repairs.

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Logan County authorities have reported damage at the Logan County Jail after a 4.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the area Saturday evening.

Officials say a 4.1 magnitude quake was reported seven miles northwest of Guthrie, near the town of Langston.

After the earthquake, authorities started noticing small cracks in the jail’s walls, some running all the way from the floor to the ceiling.

Seismologist Austin Holland says it is rare to see this type of damage from a quake this size.

“That’s very rare. Very uncommon,” says Holland. “Most of the time you have to be above a magnitude 5 before you begin to see damage from an earthquake, besides a few things falling.”

Damage discovered after Saturday’s quake proves that theory wrong.

As many as 25 cracks were found along the walls of the Logan County Jail and in the corners, kitchen area and hallways.

Damage was also spotted in the inmates’ cells, including a crack in a 200 pound steel door.

Capt. Richard Stephens, with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, says, “We haven’t ever had damage like this before and there’s some that are quite a bit worse than this.”

Authorities checked that night to make sure the jail was secure, inside and out.

Stephens says it’s minor damage but a lot of minor damage adds up in a big building.

If it’s not fixed, inmates could use the cracks to hide items or dig their way out of the jail.

“The fact there are so many is troubling,” says Stephens. “If there were one or two, no big deal but there’s 15 to 25.”

Capt. Stephens knows older buildings are more susceptible to damage but the Logan County Jail is new, built in 2008.

Seismologists say the more earthquakes we have, the larger they could become.

Also, damage like this could become more common.

“This is clearly new damage to us because we inspect every single week,” says Stephens. “This is a very new building that was built to code and we still have damage.”

No injuries were reported and authorities say the building is still sound enough to house inmates.

Most standard insurance plans don’t cover earthquake damage; fortunately, the jail has earthquake insurance.

Insurance adjusters and engineers will be at the jail on Tuesday to assess the damage.