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Magnitude 4.5 earthquake rattles Southern California, but no major damage reported

By Stephanie Chavez, Dakota Smith and Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES - A magnitude 4.5 earthquake was reported late Friday night, rattling a wide swath of Southern California but causing no major damage.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries, but the 11:38 p.m. quake was felt across the region and as far as San Diego, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which revised its magnitude downward after initial reports. It was followed by a few smaller aftershocks.

In South Pasadena, about 10 miles from the epicenter, the quake began with a strong sharp shake followed by another jolt not quite as strong. Several items fell off a shelf in one home. But power remained on. The shaking was less severe farther from the epicenter but still packed a punch.

The temblor was centered not far from the epicenter of the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, seismologist Lucy Jones said on Twitter. That quake was much larger - at 5.9 magnitude - and caused several deaths and more than $200 million in damage.

The Whittier Narrows area is seismically active. In 2014, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck along the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles. That quake, centered near La Habra, caused some damage and left about 100 residents temporarily displaced.

The Puente Hills thrust fault is considered particularly dangerous because it runs under the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles. Experts say a major, magnitude 7.5 earthquake on the fault could do more damage to the heart of Los Angeles than the dreaded Big One on the San Andreas fault, which runs along the outskirts of metropolitan Southern California.

Molly Oswaks was sitting in her Koreatown apartment on the phone with her 12-step sponsor when the couch started swaying.

"We were talking about how I needed to be more present in my body and more present to my feelings and experience," she recalled. "And then it started to shake."

As the framed art above her rattled on the wall, the 31-year-old freelance writer "freaked out in real time" while processing it on the phone with her sponsor, who was not in the city at the time.

Their conversation had already been "as L.A. as it gets" before the ground started shaking, she said. "And then the most L.A. event - more so even than a movie premiere - happened," Oswaks said, referring to the earthquake.

 

The temblor didn't cause any damage in Oswaks' studio apartment, though a sample vial of Black Orchid by Tom Ford perfume fell off the dresser.

And as for the 12-step advice she was working on? Oswaks said that after the shaking stopped she felt present in her body "to an uncomfortable degree."

"Careful what you wish for."

The earthquake occurred less than a mile from South San Gabriel, less than a mile from Montebello, less than a mile from South El Monte and 1 mile from San Gabriel.

In the last 10 days, there has been one earthquake of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

An average of five earthquakes with magnitudes between 4.0 and 5.0 occur per year in the Greater Los Angeles area, according to a recent three-year data sample.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10.9 miles.

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