Fissures that opened up under a highway during a powerful earthquake that struck Southern California are seen near the city of Ridgecrest. Picture: David McNew/Reuters

Ridgecrest, California - The Chambers household was in holiday mode when the shaking began.

Kevin Chambers and his 5-year-old daughter, Kailyn, were rotating their vanilla cake on a turntable and layering on the chocolate frosting when the pictures on the wall started to vibrate and the refrigerator started to move. Kaitlyn froze.

"She just stopped and was like, 'Uhhh,'" her father recalled with a chuckle.

Some family photos fell off the walls, and a drinking glass broke, but overall the family and house weren't worse for wear, Chambers said. Though Kevin has felt earthquakes before, Thursday was Kaitlyn's first and she seemed to handle it like a pro.

Soon after the shaking stopped, she resumed her frosting duties on the cake, her father said.

But his wife, Jazmin, remained slightly rattled hours after the initial quake. A Texas native, she'd only seen earthquakes on TV and in the movies.

The interior of "My Enchanted Cottage" is seen after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, California, that shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in the town near the epicentre. Picture: Jessica Weston/The Daily Independent via AP

She and her husband are military veterans who moved to Ridgecrest last year from Washington to raise their growing family.

"Oh my gosh, it was the scare of my life. I'm still waiting for another one," said Jazmin Chambers, 34. "I need to get some PJs and get some tennis shoes on - end of the world kind of thing."

While her husband and daughter were frosting the cake, Jazmin was cooking bacon and eggs for the rest of the family there to celebrate the day.

"They were not scrambled, surprisingly, but everything inside the refrigerator was scrambled," Chambers quipped. "It was just crazy. I thought it was maybe a helicopter or a plane flying really low. But then the refrigerator started to move.

This photo provided by Adam Graehl shows food that fell from shelves on the floor at the Stater Bros. on China Lake Blvd., in Ridgecrest, California. Picture: Adam Graehl via AP

"This just got real," she thought to herself.

She checked on her 1-week-old daughter across the kitchen, but the quake hadn't stirred her. She slept through it.

"You only see this in the movies and stuff. I never thought I'd experience something like this," Chambers said. "Afterward, I couldn't even concentrate. My body was shaking."

A damaged motorhome is seen red-taped after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, California. Picture: Matt Hartman/AP

But the rest of the family joyfully marched on Thursday afternoon.

Said Kevin Chambers: "We're proceeding as normal. I got the chicken, some steaks, some pork chops we're going to put on the grill. I don't think that's going to stop the show."

tca/dpa