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5.4 quake rattles, leaves no major damage

Environment: Temblor based near Palm Springs shakes up SCV, but officials report no injuries

Posted: July 7, 2010 9:23 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2010 4:30 a.m.

You can call it wobbly, you can call it undulating, but you cannot call Wednesday’s earthquake harmful in any way — at least in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Emergency-response officials — from the Los Angeles County Fire and Sheriff’s departments to Santa Clarita City Hall officials — say they received no reports of damage and found no evidence of such following a magnitude 5.4 earthquake centered in Borrego Springs, near Palm Springs, and felt at 4:53 p.m.

“We did what we are trained to do,” said Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz, who stood up with Mayor Laurene Weste during a meeting at City Hall and walked directly to a doorway when the quake hit.

“I was standing in the doorway with the mayor,” she said. “Everyone jumped up when it happened and went to their doorways.”

As soon as the undulating stopped, she said, emergency-response people followed protocol and immediately made checks on key points of infrastructure around the city, primarily bridges.

“We’ve got no damage,” Ortiz said in response to a follow-up call later in the day. “We’ve done our cursory inspection, and there appears to be no issue and no problem at all.

“We’re getting no reports of damage.”

The story was similar across a wide area of Southern California, where residents were shaken up but reported no injuries or major damage.

Some wine bottles were shaken off shelves at a Palm Spring hotel, but the police chief there said there was no major damage.

Lt. Tom Bryski of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said there was a lot of shaking felt, but no damage found locally.

“No one’s phoning in with problems,” he said. “We felt it here a little and we’re checking our infrastructure, including all the bridges, chemical plants, things like that.”

Bridges were also the main concern for officers with the California Highway Patrol.

Within a couple of minutes of the quake shaking the valley, local CHP officers received requests from their supervisors to inspect bridges in their assigned areas.

“We’ve done checks on all of the under-crossings and overpasses, and we sustained no damage,” said CHP Sgt. Matthew Hill.

When asked how the checks could be carried out so quickly, he said: “They’re on their beats so we just ask them to check.

“They found nothing.”

Fire officials reported the same.

“Nothing fell off the shelves,” said Battalion Chief John O’Brien with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “And there were no emergency-response calls in the Santa Clarita Valley related to the earthquake.”

All rides at the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park were checked for possible damage immediately, said spokeswoman Sue Carpenter.

“We certainly felt it here in our office,” she said. “We followed standard operating procedure, meaning all our (roller) coasters and rides were shut down and checked.”

Each ride is monitored by “highly technical” computers, Carpenter said, adding: “All of our rides and coasters finish their cycle, come to a stop and (are) inspected.”

The whole inspection, including a check of each ride, “took less than 20 minutes.”

Carpenter was asked about Santa Clarita’s tallest structure — the park’s Sky Tower.

“It’s fine,” she said. “It’s built to earthquake standards and goes down 30 stories into the ground.”


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