Feb. 9, 1971, 6:01 a.m.

Downed freeway bridges in Newhall Pass. U.S. Geological Survey

Rubble of the San Fernando Valley Veterans Hospital in Sylmar. Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library; Below left, the site this past weekend. LA Observed.

sylmar-vets-park.jpgOn this day 40 years ago, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake broke at 6:01 a.m. Sylmar got its name on the event, but the epicenter was deep under the San Gabriel Mountains, in the San Fernando fault zone. The quake ripped open the surface for about 12 miles in the mountains and San Fernando Valley, knocked down parts of the SFV Veterans Hospital and Olive View hospital in Sylmar, toppled the same freeway interchange in Newhall Pass that fell again in the 1994 Northridge quake, caused landslides and set fires burning in city streets. Sixty-five people died, most of them at the VA hospital. Many more were left homeless, but the quake occurred early enough in the day that schools were unoccupied and the freeways were not crowded. A big swath of the Valley was evacuated for several days out of fear that the Lower Van Norman Dam in Granada Hills would fail.

Plaque at site of the razed VA hospital. LA Observed

More photos after the jump.

Gov. Ronald Reagan at downed VA hospital. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Fallen part of Olive View Hospital. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Ambulance at Olive View Hospital. USGS

Family outside of home damaged in Sylmar quake. Herald Examiner Collection, LAPL.

Displaced Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. USGS

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