Earthquake Hits California

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Southern California was rattled by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake. There are no reports of serious injuries or damage. It was the region's fourth quake this week.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

For the fourth time since Sunday, a significant earthquake has shaken California. The most recent quake happened late last night off the coast of Northern California. As NPR's Luke Burbank reports, people here are starting to wonder if all the recent rumbling is somehow connected.

LUKE BURBANK reporting:

Much of California was already in bed when the most recent quake struck 125 miles off the coast of Eureka. The magnitude-6.6 quake rattled nerves but caused only one injury. Earlier in the day, a smaller quake actually caused a bigger stir as it ripped through heavily populated Southern California. The 4.9 temblor struck before 2:00, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. Everyone noticed that one, including Vic Stauffer, the announcer at Hollywood Park Racetrack.

(Soundbite of race)

Mr. VIC STAUFFER (Announcer): Havin a Good Time and Artebgood second and third, and we are in the midst of an earthquake here in Southern California, as Lady Le Quesne goes past the half-mile pole. By the way, folks, I want you to know I loved you all and horse racing was my first love. Off to the far turn, we hope; Lady Le Quesne leads by...

BURBANK: If Stauffer seemed calm, it's probably because Southern California averages two to three significant quakes a year. But the region's already eclipsed that in just a week, something Lucy Jones with the US Geological Survey says isn't necessarily a reason for concern.

Ms. LUCY JONES (US Geological Survey): It's been a long time since we've had many earthquakes. I think there've only been three or four 5's, like, since 2000. So sometimes you get sparse times; sometimes you get clusters. This is not an unusual level of earthquake activity. We live in earthquake country, and we should remember it.

BURBANK: It's been hard to forget since Sunday morning, when a magnitude-5.2 earthquake rocked the Palm Springs area. Then Tuesday night, a 7.2 temblor off the coast of Northern California briefly caused a tsunami scare. And then both of yesterday's events. Matt Fraydis(ph) is a chief with the San Bernardino Fire Department.

Chief MATT FRAYDIS (San Bernardino Fire Department): Oh, you definitely could feel it. The windows rattling--it was enough to get you up and try to move for someplace away from the windows. Maybe not the largest one I've ever felt, but definitely one that got your attention.

BURBANK: Geologists say it's too early to tell if some of the quakes are related, but they don't have any reason to believe they're somehow leading up to the `big one,' as some residents have feared. Lucy Jones of the USGS admits that the most recent quake did occur right next to the legendary San Andreas fault line...

Ms. JONES: But the type of motion was one block of rock moving up and over the other, and the San Andreas is a vertical fault, moving sideways. So we know this was not on the San Andreas itself.

BURBANK: That may be comforting to the state's seismologists, but even here in earthquake country, four quakes in less than a week is enough to put people on edge. Luke Burbank, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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