This Guy Helps Lewis & Clark County Residents Stay Earthquake Safe

Jul 6, 2017

Earthquakes result from the sudden release of energy accumulated by friction of tectonic plates at the earth's crust, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Approximately 100,000 earthquakes are annually engraved on the planet, and the USGS describes the most powerful of these earthquakes often resulting in devastating natural disasters. There are numerous earthquakes across Montana and Wyoming every day, but most are not felt by humans.
Credit (Flickr Creative Commons) (

Officials say nobody was injured and nothing was damaged as a result of the largest earthquake in the Helena area since 1935.

“After a strong shake like this, damage assessment is done immediately to determine if there are any problems, and in this case, we were fortunate enough to file none,” said Paul Spengler, the Lewis and Clark County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator.

Paul Spengler is the Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator for Lewis & Clark County, MT.
Credit FEMA news photo

Spengler says after the initial magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit about 29-miles northwest of Helena in the Rogers Pass area, there were many aftershocks.

“The largest were 4.9, 4.5 and 4.3 – the last one was recorded at 9:30. Fortunately, the Lincoln area nor Helena suffered any structural damage. The Bureau of Reclamation looked at all their dams and assessed them for damage and found none, said Spengler.

Spengler adds that well-water drinkers throughout the state should not be concerned with the quality of their water as a result of this morning’s earthquake.

Within an hour of the initial Lincoln earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey says more than 5,000 people self-reported experiencing tremors, but nothing more severe than brief rattling that shook some from their sleep. Though there were multiple reports of grocery aisles collapsing and products flying from shelves in the Lincoln area, no injuries associated with the quake were reported to local officials. 

Historically, the most deadly earthquake in this region was in 1959 when a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Hebgen Lake, Montana. Yellowstone National Park’s website states that “the quake caused massive damage, including 28 fatalities and a considerable $11 million in repairs to highways and timbers.”

The USGS reports this week’s earthquake was just one of 20 earthquakes in the area within the last week. Spangler reminds people that while ‘quakes large enough to be felt are far and few between,’ preparedness is key.

Spengler adds that this year’s The Great Montana Shakeout – an annual, statewide earthquake drill – is scheduled for Oct. 19. Information on that can be found at our website