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La Habra earthquake: Some residents return home, aftershocks rattle Southern California

Caption
March 29, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some residents are being let back into their homes in the aftermath of the 5.1 earthquake that hit La Habra.

According to Fullerton fire officials, 20 red-tagged apartment units were cleared for residents Saturday evening. However, another six homes still have not been deemed safe.

More than 30 homes and apartments were red-tagged in the wake of the temblor. Fullerton police said four homes on the 1900 block of Juanita Place, five homes on the 1800 block of Avenida del Norte and 20 apartment units on the 2700 block of Associated Road were red-tagged after officials found a major foundation crack. Fullerton police Lt. Mike Chlebowski said 83 people were displaced as a result.

Meantime, more than 100 aftershocks have rattled the Southland since the 5.1 quake Friday night. The largest aftershock, a magnitude 4.1, hit at 2:32 p.m. Saturday near Rowland Heights. Eyewitness News viewers from across the Southland, including in Culver City, Brea, Studio City, and Whittier said they felt the shaking.

Caltech seismologists said Friday's 5.1-magnitude earthquake was at a depth of around 1 mile. The main shock was preceded by two foreshocks registering magnitudes 3.6 and 2.1, scientists said. The aftershocks have many residents on edge.

Eyewitness News viewers from across the Southland, including in Northridge, Altadena, Palmdale, Torrance and Riverside, reported feeling the earthquake. It was also felt from the Mexico border to the Central Valley in at least seven Southern California counties.

There were no immediate reports of significant damage or major injuries. But some viewers did send in photos of toppled furniture, as well as broken glass and mirrors. Videos and pictures from many stores also showed a huge mess after items flew off shelves and isles were littered with debris.

On Saturday, the department began a concerted effort to assess the structural integrity of many of the city's buildings, said Battalion Chief John Stokes.

"There could be more (red-tagged structures)," Stokes said. "We've got units out looking at more structures, as people are getting up and starting to find stuff. We've got gas meters broken and five water mains ruptured."

La Habra City Councilman James Gomez says 25 La Habra residents were displaced. A Red Cross shelter was set up on the 100 block of West La Habra Boulevard following the earthquake for residents forced out of their home or who voluntarily chose to stay there. The shelter was closed it once 38 people who stayed overnight returned home.

According to Southern California Edison, 34 customers remain without power in the La Habra Heights area and 792 customers remain without power in Buena Park. Crews were working to restore power, but the restoration time was unknown.

Metro said no damage to the rail system was found following a check of all lines, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works said there were no issues immediately reported with the county's bridges or dams.

The Brea Police Department reported a rockslide on Carbon Canyon Road following the shaking. The department tweeted a photo of a car that struck a rock and overturned. The occupants in the BMW only sustained minor injuries. The road will remain closed indefinitely, Brea police said. The road was available to residents only, all other traffic was urged to avoid the area until further notice. Officials were awaiting CalTrans officials and geologists to evaluate damage.

Embassy Suites in Brea was voluntarily evacuated due to the earthquake. Hotel guests have since returned to their rooms.

The shaking was also felt strongly at Disneyland. Crowds were evacuated on Main Street, and rides were briefly shut down as a precaution. The theme park was expected to have normal operations Saturday.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department was investigating reports of possible gas leaks in the Rowland Heights area. A water-main break occurred in Fullerton near Rosecrans Avenue and Gilbert Street.

Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully was on the air calling the Angels-Dodgers exhibition game in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium.

"A little tremor here in the ballpark. I'm not sure if the folks felt it, but we certainly felt it here in press box row," Scully said. "A tremor and only that, thank goodness."

Seismologist Lucy Jones said Friday's largest quake was probably 10 times larger than the March 17 magnitude-4.4 quake near Encino in terms of energy released.

Preliminary data suggest Friday night's 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred near the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and caused the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, Jones said.

"It's a place where we've had a lot of earthquakes in the past," she said.

The 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake killed eight people and caused $360 million in damage.

Friday's "earthquake is the second in two weeks, and reminds us to be prepared," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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