Community Effort

February 9, 1971, Sylmar, CA (Bruce Cox-photographer)

The 1971 San Fernando earthquake, also known as the “Sylmar Quake,” took place on the morning of February 9, 1971 around 6:01am. The 6.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter located along a 12 mile fault zone below the San Gabriel Mountains lasted approximately 12 seconds and affected the entire San Fernando Valley. The earthquake caused over $500 million in damages, around 64 deaths, and critical destruction to the infrastructure of the region. The Olive View Medical Center was most adversely affected when a newly finished six story psychiatric ward collapsed, as well as the Veteran Administration Hospital in Sylmar. The unreinforced concrete wings of the V.A Hospital, built in 1925, toppled leaving 47 dead and numerous victims trapped below the wreckage. Following the San Fernando Earthquake, new seismic safety building codes and legislation such as the Alquist-Priolo Act, which bans development near active fault lines in California, were put into place.

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