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Quake jolts California

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake jolted residents awake early Saturday.

BY PJ HELLER | BIG BEAR CITY, CA | February 22, 2003


"It was only about five or six seconds long, a good shake. It felt, honestly, about a 5.9."

—Nearby resident


A magnitude 5.4 earthquake jolted residents awake here early Saturday morning. The temblor was felt from downtown San Diego to Ventura.

The quake struck at 4:19 a.m. and was centered approximately four miles north of Bear Bear City, a resort community in the San Bernardino mountains about 90 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, where the quake was also felt.

"Oh, it was sharp, fast and short," said a resident who lives just three miles south of the epicenter. "It was only about five or six seconds long, a good shake. It felt, honestly, about a 5.9."

Initial reports said the quake caused only minor damage - cracks in cement and plaster walls and items falling off store shelves. Store aisles at two of the biggest grocery stores in town were filled with broken glass and cans. No injuries were reported.

At one local hotel in Big Bear City, guests ran to the doorway of their rooms while others got dressed and headed outside.

Firefighters warned residents to be prepared for dozens of aftershocks.

"We're asking residents to be prepared, to check their emergency preparedness supplies, such as flashlights, warm clothing, wearing hard soled shoes and to check their homes for any loose items that may have fallen or close to falling since the earthquake," a fire department spokesman said.

At least four more quakes, ranging in magnitude from 3.8 to 4.9, were felt after the initial 5.4 jolt, according to the California Institute of Technology seismology laboratory in Pasadena.


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