LOS ANGELES — A moderate earthquake that rattled a swath of Southern California forced several dozen people in one community out of their homes and apartments after firefighters discovered foundation problems that made the buildings unsafe to enter, authorities said Saturday.
Fire inspectors red-tagged 20 apartment units in a building in the Orange County city of Fullerton after finding a major foundation crack. Structural woes that included broken and leaning chimneys were uncovered in half a dozen single-family homes, which were also deemed as unsafe to occupy until building inspectors clear the structures. The damage displaced 83 residents.
Despite the evacuations, Friday night’s magnitude-5.1 quake centered about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles mostly just frayed nerves.
The quake was preceded by two smaller foreshocks. More than 100 aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-3.4 Saturday morning. 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, shut off gas leaks and repair water main breaks. A rock slide led to the closure of a road in the Carbon Canyon area of nearby Brea.
Friday’s jolt was the strongest to strike the Los Angeles region since 2008. Southern California has been in a seismic lull since the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake killed several dozen people and caused $25 billion in damage.
The latest quake hit a week after a magnitude-4.4 centered in the San Fernando Valley shook buildings and rattled nerves.
It appeared to break a one-mile segment of the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and caused the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake that killed eight people. The rupture lasted half a second, scientists said.
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said it’s unclear whether Southern California is entering a more active seismic period.
“We have been in a really quiet time. It can’t stay that way,” Jones said.