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Powerful Quake Rattles Nerves; No Injuries Reported

September 1, 1994

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A strong earthquake centered near an area devastated by a quake two years ago rattled nerves and shook buildings Thursday across Northern California and southern Oregon.

No injuries or serious damage were reported.

The 8:16 a.m. Cape Mendocino quake registered a moment magnitude of 7.2 and was centered on the Mendocino fault zone in the Pacific Ocean about 90 miles southwest of Eureka, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

″Nothing much happened,″ said volunteer firefighter Rex Rathbun in Petrolia, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. ″It was very quiet. We’re happy to have it that way. It wakes you up, though.″

A 6.9 magnitude quake in the area in April 1992 damaged more than 300 homes, many of them historic Victorian buildings, and ignited a fire that burned a shopping center. That earthquake injured 95 people and caused an estimated $51 million in damage.

On Thursday, people reported feeling a rolling sensation, seeing buildings sway and watching water slosh in swimming pools as far south as Fresno.

Similar reports came from as far north as Grants Pass, Ore., and east to Modesto and Sacramento.

The few reports of damage included groceries falling off shelves at the General Store in Petrolia.

″We had a long, rolling shake ... I noticed one class, they went out and they were standing on the lawn,″ said Sean Kearns, spokesman at Humboldt State University in Arcata. ″The professor immediately passed out ... a one- page reading assignment that they were going to discuss while they were standing outside.″

Police departments throughout Northern California and parts of Oregon received calls from nervous residents who felt the shaking.

″It’s been mostly roofs creaking, chandeliers moving, water in aquariums moving, that kind of thing,″ Brookings, Ore., police dispatcher Debbie Fries said.

At the Humboldt County building department in Eureka, Sheila McClung and her fellow workers froze in panic when they felt the rolling.

″We just all kind of stood here and looked at each other and waited for the ultimate,″ she said. ″Everyone has memories of what happened here a few years ago.″

The region off the Humboldt County coast is known for frequent seismic activity because three active tectonic plates join there, sometimes causing more than one quake per month.

A quake of magnitude 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people. A quake of magnitude 4 can cause slight damage in some areas, although not usually in California, where building codes move the threshold for slight damage to between 4.5 and 5.

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