L.A. Earthquate – 5.4…

BREAKING NEWS

5.4 earthquake rocks L.A. area

 

 

The quake, which Caltech officials downgraded from an initial magnitude of 5.8, was centered near Chino Hills. No major damage or injuries are reported.

 

By David Pierson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:18 PM PDT, July 29, 2008

 

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 shook large parts of Southern California, shaking a wide swath from Ventura County to San Diego.

 

The quake shook downtown L.A. buildings and was felt as far east as Palm Springs.

 

It was centered near Chino Hills, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

 

There were no reports of major damage or injuries. But the Los Angeles Police Department reported minor structural damage at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

 

The magnitude of the quake was originally set at 5.8. But Caltech officials downgraded it to 5.4 and said they doubted the temblor caused major structural damage. (click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

 

Kate Hutton, a staff seismologist at Caltech, said 11 aftershocks were recorded at various places, with 3.8 being the largest and the only one felt.

 

“It was somewhat similar to the [1987] Whittier Narrows [quake]. Most everyone in the L.A. Basin felt it. Things will have fallen off shelves. I’d be surprised to see some structural damage. There could be some cases of cracked plaster and maybe broken windows, but not structural damage, which is when a building is compromised.”

 

She said today’s quake was significantly smaller than the Whittier Narrows quake. That one was on a blind thrust fault, hidden under sediment. Hutton said she did not know if today’s quake was on the same type of fault.

 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has activated the Office of Emergency Services.

 

The biggest initial concern was in San Bernardino County, which is particularly susceptible to damage because of its high water table.

 

But there were no reports of injury to people or of structural damage, said Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Phones in the Chino Hills Sheriff’s Station have been working intermittently, but the dispatch center has had no disruptions, she added.

 

Sheriff’s officials are responding to multiple calls from people concerned because their house alarms have been activated. They also have heard many reports of books and groceries flying off the shelves at supermarkets and at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore.

 

Miller said the department is also getting inundated with calls from people who were frightened by the shaking.

 

TV helicopter footage of the Chino Hills area showed people being evacuated from schools and some buildings, but no major damage.

 

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it has no immediate reports of injuries.

 

The Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Grand Avenue has been evacuated as a precautionary measure. Security officials said they expect the building to reopen after one hour.

 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was in closed session at the time of the earthquake and did not suspend its meeting.

 

The quake interrupted a meeting of the Los Angeles City Council, causing the 27-story City Hall to sway just as Councilman Dennis Zine was criticizing a plan to increase trash fees.

 

“Earthquake! Earthquake! We’ve got an earthquake,” said Zine, as members of the audience began to cry out. “It’s still happening.”

 

Phoenix native Nathan Blaylock was laying in bed watching television this morning in his penthouse apartment in downtown Los Angeles when he felt his first earthquake.

 

“It felt like someone hit the side of the building. It was rocking,” said Blaylock, a medical equipment salesman who said he has lived in Los Angeles for about seven months. “It scared me a little bit, then I realized what it was.”

 

Elevators at the Pegasus Apartments, Blaylock’s building, shut down as a result of the earthquake. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was trapped in the elevators when they stopped working.

 

Orange County also felt shaking.

 

“It’s the first time in my life I actually got under my desk,” said Anaheim Police Sgt. Ken Seymour, who has lived in Southern California his whole life.

 

It’s too early to tell if there’s any major damage but all units are checking overpasses, bridges and tall buildings, he said.

 

On the UC Irvine campus, a community college student attending a special summer program began to cry as her English classroom pitched and rolled for about 30 seconds. She was comforted by a counselor and soon was smiling and chatting again. The class in English critical thinking and literature is part of a program for Santa Ana College students to help them transfer to a four-year university.

 

The quake was felt forcefully in Long Beach, where a series of sharp and loud jolts hit.

 

Dozens of office workers evacuated high-rise buildings in downtown Long Beach, but there were no immediate reports of physical damage.

 

In Alhambra, an apartment building rolled and the foundations shook, but not enough to shake books off shelves.

 

The governor issued the following statement: “I have spoken with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, acting Mayor Wendy Greuel, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and Chino Hills City Manager Doug La Belle to check on the status of their communities and to offer them whatever assistance they need from the state. Our state Office of Emergency Services has reached out to local governments in the affected area to ensure that levees, bridges and other critical infrastructure are inspected and declared safe. We are activating our regional and state emergency operations centers and will continue monitoring the situation closely.”

 

david.pierson@latimes.com

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