Quake forces evacuations in Southern California

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm •  Published: March 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A moderate earthquake that rattled a swath of Southern California forced several dozen people in one community out of their homes after firefighters discovered foundation problems that made the buildings unsafe to enter, authorities said Saturday.

Fire crews red-tagged 20 apartment units in a building in the Orange County city of Fullerton after finding a major foundation crack. Structural woes, including broken chimneys and leaning, were uncovered in half a dozen single-family houses, which were also deemed unsafe to occupy until building inspectors clear the structures. The damage displaced 83 residents.

Despite the evacuations and scattered damage, Friday night's magnitude-5.1 earthquake centered about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles mostly frayed nerves.

The quake was preceded by two smaller foreshocks. More than 100 aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-4.1 that hit Saturday afternoon, the largest in the sequence so far that was felt over a wide region. No injuries were reported.

Residents were inconvenienced and some lost valuables, but "thankfully the damage wasn't greater," said Chi-Chung Keung, a spokesman for the city of Fullerton.

Business owners in Orange County spent the aftermath sweeping up shattered glass and restocking shelves. Utility crews worked to restore power and shut off gas leaks and water-main breaks. A rock slide in the Carbon Canyon area of nearby Brea also caused a car to overturn. The occupants had minor injuries, and the road remained closed to traffic.

The Red Cross opened a shelter in neighboring La Habra but closed it once the 38 people who stayed overnight returned home.

"Everything is starting to get settled down here," La Habra police Sgt. Mel Ruiz said.

In Fullerton, some residents will have to stay elsewhere until building inspectors can check out the red-tagged apartments and houses and give an all-clear, Fire Battalion Chief John Stokes said.

Another 14 residential structures around the city suffered lesser damage, including collapsed fireplaces. Shortly after the main earthquake, the city dealt with a dozen water-main breaks and multiple natural-gas leaks, Stokes said.