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UPDATED 6:05 p.m.: Earthquake hits Southern California

No injuries or damage reported in SCV

Posted: July 29, 2008 2:48 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Dan March, foreground, and Rick Smith, members of the city of Santa Clarita's street maintenance crew, inspect the Centurion Way bridge near Saugus High School after Tuesday's earthquake. City inspectors and crews began inspecting the "dozens and dozens" of local bridges within 15 minutes of the shaker, March said.


UPDATED 6:05 p.m.
An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale hit Southern California Tuesday at 11:42:15 a.m.

The quake was centered two miles southwest of Chino Hills, and 8.5 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS also recorded an aftershock three miles south-southeast of neighboring Diamond Bar measuring 3.8 just three and a half minutes later, and a 3.6 aftershock centered two miles south-southwest of Chino Hills at 1:40 p.m.

Initial reports of a 5.8 shake were downgraded by the USGS to 5.4 within 45 minutes.

By comparison, the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994 was 6.7 on the Richter scale, according to the USGS.

The epicenter of today's temblor was 65 miles from The Signal offices on Creekside Road in Valencia, and 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Associated Press reported the quake was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico and slightly in Las Vegas.

John Hori of Chino Hills reported receiving a call from his wife Sonia, who was shopping at the Target store there when the quake struck.

"She said things were falling off the shelves," Hori told The Signal.

As of 11:50 a.m., the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and local fire officials had not received any calls requesting assistance.

"We could still get calls, but so far, so good," said Capt. Marshall Oldham at the sheriff's station. "Our guys have not gone out on any [earthquake] calls."

Forty-five minutes after the main quake, Lt. Mark Hershey said the station had still received no calls in response to the quake. "But, we're going around and checking all the facilities."

Sheriff's deputies began following a strict "Critical Facilities Check" as soon as the quake hit, a check with the Watch Commander's office revealed.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich directed the county's Department of Public Works to conduct a thorough investigation of all county infrastructure including roads, tunnels, bridges and buildings to assess damage and initiate repairs if necessary.

In addition, the Department of Health Services' preliminary reports indicated the county's medical facilities were sound, according to Antonovich.

The California Highway Patrol reported no bridges had failed, but officers quickly began inspecting bridges on Interstate 5 from the Grapevine south through the SCV to Highway 118.

"Right now our officers are out looking at all bridges," said Lt. Ralph Elvira at the CHP's Newhall station, approximately 12:10 p.m. "The ones we've looked at have a negative report, meaning they're OK."

No injured persons showed up at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital following the quake, said Bhavna Mistry, hospital spokeswoman.

"We rocked and rolled, but so far, so good," said Gail Ortiz, city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman, at 12:05 p.m. Ortiz added there had been no reported power outages, and that city officials were checking all public facilities, including bridges and Metrolink facilities.

Chris Coronel, region manager for Southern California Edison. confirmed there were no power outages in the SCV as a result of the quake. He added there was no damage to any local Edison facilities.

"It was quite a ride," Coronel said.

"Six Flags inspected all rides after the earthquake," said Sue Carpenter, Six Flags Magic Mountain spokeswoman. "No damage was reported in the park," she said, and rides that were temporarily closed were soon re-opened. "Hurricane Harbor is open as well. Business as usual."

"I don't believe we have any damage, but we're checking all our facilities," including Castaic Lake, said Dan Masnada, general manager of Castaic Lake Water Agency, when asked if any leaks had sprung in the Santa Clarita Valley because of the quake.

There was no damage at either the Valencia or the Canyon Country campus of College of the Canyons, according to COC spokesman John McElwain. He said school officials were inspecting all the buildings and classes were continuing as scheduled today and tonight.

"All is fine" at The Master's College, according to Bob Hotton, director of plant operations.

Westfield Valencia Town Center had "absolutely zero damage," said Alexandra Decicco, marketing director.

"What earthquake?" asked an employee at the Wal-Mart in Canyon Country, who added there was no damage at the store.

Julie Benson of Princess Cruises reported no signifcant damage at the company's Valencia office, just papers falling from shelves. Employees were briefly evacuated to the parking lot.

The Hyatt Valencia reported no damage at the hotel.

At the Castaic Animal Shelter, "Some of the dogs got a little quiet just afterward," said Brian Dluzak, a clerk at the shelter. Otherwise, all the animals are OK, he said.

A few Verizon wireless subscribers noted an interruption in service for about an hour after the quake.

"There was no damage to any of our cellular sites or switch centers, but we did see call volume spike dramatically," said Ken Muche, Verizon spokesman.

"No network has infinite capacity, and some call blocking occurred because capacity was maxed out," he said.

A tsunami was not expected, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

Jim Holt, Josh Premako, Tammy Marashlian, Katherine Geyer and Stephen K. Peeples contributed to this breaking news report.


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