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Predawn Quake Awakens Wide Area of Southern California

December 3, 1988

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ A sharp earthquake deep beneath City Hall jarred Southern California early Saturday, toppling bottles from store shelves, knocking out power to thousands of homes and causing at least 24 minor injuries.

The 3:38 a.m. quake registered 5 on the Richter scale, said Hall Daily, a spokesman for the California Institute of Technology Seismology Laboratory. Several aftershocks were recorded, the largest measuring 2.6.

No serious damage was reported.

The quake was felt at least 90 miles away, in San Diego. The earth shook across 15,000 square miles and seven counties for about 15 seconds.

″Talk about your rude awakenings,″ said Patricia Brillhart, who was awakened at her home a quarter-mile from the Rose Bowl by her shaking bed and the sound of her china crashing to the floor. The Rose Bowl is about two miles from City Hall.

It was the strongest quake in the Los Angeles area since a 5.9 temblor on Oct. 1, 1987, and an aftershock two days later killed eight people, injured 200 and caused $358 million in damage.

The 66-year-old Rose Bowl, home of the annual Tournament of Roses New Year’s Day college football classic, appeared to be undamaged.

Twenty-four people were treated for minor injuries at four hospitals. Most suffered cuts and bruises when they trippped and fell, nursing supervisors said.

The most serious injury was a man who mistook the quake for an intruder and shot himself in the leg, said Shirley Muldoon, nursing supervisor at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank.

An 18-year-old man apparently panicked and fell through a window, suffering minor abrasions, said County USC-Medical Center spokeswoman Norka Manning. ″It started out slow, then ‘Bam 3/8’ for seven seconds,″ said Mitch Cramer, night manager at a grocery store, where the quake broke jelly jars, and juice and liquor bottles.

″The beef jerky fell down. The windows shook and the doors rattled,″ said Azad Medi, a clerk at a gas station and convenience store in El Toro.

Power outages were scattered throughout the area, including Pasadena, downtown Los Angeles and parts of the San Fernando Valley. The quake was felt in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Kern and Ventura counties.

About 100,000 customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were without electricity for up to seven minutes, said spokesman Ed Freudenburg. About 1,000 customers in the Van Nuys area were without power for about 90 minutes.

The temblor was at first believed to have been centered about six miles beneath the Rose Bowl. But additional readings later Saturday revealed the quake was centered 10 miles beneath the Pasadena City Hall, about two miles east of original estimates, said Daily at Caltech.

The City Hall was damaged in a stronger 1987 quake and now stands behind scaffolding, but did not appear to be damaged further although authorities had not yet closely examined it.

″A magnitude 5 is just beginning to get into the type of earthquake that one would expect damage, at least with the construction practices we have here,″ said Caltech seismologist Clarence Allen.

Pasadena officials said the quake broke a few residential gas lines and tripped numerous tripped burglar and auto alarms. The quake shattered plate glass windows in some stores.

Mark Gofstein, a newscaster for a radio station at the University of California at Los Angeles, said he was at the station on the Westwood campus when the temblor hit.

″A lot of pranksters started calling up the station requesting the song ’Shake, Rattle and Roll,‴ Gofstein said.

Before the 1987 quakes in Whittier, the most destructive recent quake in metropolitan Los Angeles was the 1971 San Fernando quake, which measured 6.4 and caused $511 million in damage.

The Richter scale is a measure of ground motion as recorded on seismographs. Every increase of one number means a tenfold increase in magnitude. Thus a reading of 7.5 reflects an earthquake 10 times stronger than one of 6.5.

An earthquake of 5 can cause considerable damage in the local area, 6 severe damage and a 7 reading is a ″major″ earthquake, capable of widespread heavy damage. An 8 is a ″great″ quake, capable of tremendous damage.

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which occurred before the Richter scale was devised, has been estimated at 8.3 on the Richter scale.

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