Last week, Mark Kleinschmidt was getting a burger at The Colonial Inn in Hillsborough when he heard a loud boom and felt the restaurant shake.
Before he knew the shake was an earthquake, Kleinschmidt, the Orange County clerk of superior court, posted on X voicing concerns shared by him and those around him. In his post, Kleinschmidt said he'd heard rumors that the noise came from a possible plane crash or explosion.
“It was just a huge mystery,” he said.
Kleinschmidt said about 30 minutes after the earthquake, he got an email from Orange County Emergency Services informing him that concerns like explosions, building failures and extraterrestrial landings had been ruled out.
The U.S. Geological Survey, the agency in charge of monitoring natural hazards, concluded the noise was the result of an earthquake with a 2.2 magnitude and a shallow depth of three miles on Oct. 20, the day after the event.
Sarah Pickhardt, the Orange County Emergency Management Division chief, said she initially thought a crash occurred nearby, but after calls began coming into the 911 center, she realized it was something more.
“That for us was a trigger of something has happened, and it wasn’t something that happened on our property, this was something that was impacting the Town as well,” she said.
Pickhardt said the division received calls from the Hillsborough area after the earthquake, although she said none of these reports were about damage or requesting assistance.
Pickhardt said the Emergency Operations Center responded to the earthquake by ruling out potential causes. She said the center’s partners used drones, checked with the rock quarry and communicated with state and federal agencies.