Old Inland Empire buildings pose major risk in earthquakes, experts say

Rob McMillan Image
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Old IE buildings pose major earthquake risk
Older brick buildings in San Bernardino pose a risk of collapse in a major earthquake, experts say.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Some of the worst buildings to be in or near during a major earthquake are older structures made of unreinforced masonry.

The Inland Empire has hundreds of those older brick buildings that haven't been retrofitted - 89 in the city of San Bernardino alone.

In the event of a massive quake, experts say those older structures would likely come crashing down.

The situation is particularly worrisome given the location of San Bernardino near dangerous faults, particularly the San Andreas.

And the region's depressed economics mean that owners have not been able to pay to retrofit many of the buildings to bring them up to modern standards.

"The presence of these unreinforced masonry buildings is really a concern," said David Oglesby, a professor with the University of California Riverside. "They certainly are probably the most dangerous type of building style that we have here in the Inland Empire."

San Bernardino is looking to obtain federal grants to help pay for the retrofitting, but there is no guarantee the funds would be awarded. Ultimately, it's up to individual property owners to do the work to protect their structures.