25th anniversary of Klamath Falls earthquake

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – On September 20th of 1993, a 6.0 earthquake rolled through Klamath Falls.

Firefighter John Spradley was off duty at home when the quake hit. He recalled, “As soon as the quake hit, we had an all call and all personnel responded to their stations, and we were then on duty for several days.”

Older brick buildings were hit particularly hard by the earthquake.

A car parked next to the old Stevens Hotel was nearly buried under rubble.

NBC’s Pat Kruse reported from the downtown area the next morning, saying, “About 5 buildings have the damage of this one in downtown Klamath Falls, with bricks cascading to the ground below.”

Boulders rolled down from hillsides north of Klamath Falls onto Highway 97.

“The Klamath Falls earthquake did take the lives of two people,” Kruse reported. “One man was crushed by a boulder as he was driving down the highway, and an elderly woman had a heart attack during an aftershock.”

The Klamath County Courthouse was damaged beyond repair.

“We had collapsed buildings,” recalled Spradley, who now serves as Fire Chief for Klamath County Fire District #1. “We were securing all the buildings and getting them evaluated by engineers to find out what their condition was.”

Many private homes were knocked off foundations and had broken chimneys.

All rail traffic came to a halt.

Sections of Main Street were shut down due to fears of falling bricks and masonry from aftershocks.

Reporter Monte Muirhead did a story on highway damage: “State highway crews inspected the highway 97 bridge over the Klamath River, looking for structural damage.  Last night’s quake reportedly moved the bridge six inches.”

Aftershocks continued for several months.

NBC reporter Kruse noted, “The people who went through this earthquake know that they went through one of the hardest shakings that Oregon has ever taken.”


KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.

He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.

“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.

When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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