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'It was like if somebody had grabbed' the house: 4.4 quake rattles Southland

'It was like if somebody had grabbed' the house: 4.4 quake rattles Southland
A map showing the epicenter of the earthquake near La Verne. (Los Angeles Times)

Parts of Southern California were rattled by a 4.4 magnitude earthquake Tuesday evening that was centered near La Verne but felt over a wide area.

The quake occurred at 7:33 p.m. at a depth of 3.7 miles. It was followed by smaller aftershocks.

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According to the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter was three miles from San Dimas, four miles from Claremont and five miles from Glendora.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage at this time, a La Verne Police Department spokesperson said.

The dormitories at the University of La Verne were evacuated as a precaution, a spokesman said, but no damage had been found.

At home in La Verne, Vickie Carillo was sitting with her son on the couch watching “Jaws 2” when they felt the shaking start.

“It was like if somebody had grabbed it and was shaking the house,” she said.

Carillo estimated that her home is only about a mile from the quake’s epicenter. She said she screamed and their two Jack Russell terriers started running around. The family picked them up and ran outside, joining about a dozen neighbors.

They walked around for about 20 minutes, hearing the rumbling of the aftershocks, before going back inside. Carillo said several closed doors had swung open and the family found trophies, books and other items on the floor.

“We haven't had an earthquake in quite a while — I mean not like that,” she said. “I'm just glad I didn't get in the shower like I was going to.”

Victor Flores, who lives in a two-story house in the hills of La Verne, said the shaking was “extremely violent.”

“It was moving the whole house,” he said. “It shook hard for what seemed like 10 to 20 seconds, and then it just kept going. It was really loud too, kind of like thunder. It just hit really hard and quick.”

Flores, his wife and daughters ran to their backyard, but when they saw the water in their pool swaying back and forth, they ran back inside.

Flores, who owns two aerospace manufacturing businesses in La Verne, called to check on his employees. So far, he said, only small things seemed to have fallen off shelves.

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Rochelle Puente was watching her 7-year-old son’s football practice at Bonita High School in La Verne when she felt the shaking. She and at least 100 other people at the field looked up at the tall trees and swaying poles.

Puente heard people scream. She knew the kids practicing in the middle of the field were safe, but she was nervous for the parents and other family members sitting along the perimeter near the poles. Her instinct was to watch the poles and prepare to run to the center of the field if necessary.

“Everyone got out of their chairs and just started looking around,” she said. “I didn’t feel any rolling at all. It just came on as the shaking, a little subtle and then really strong.

“It felt way stronger than a 4.4,” Puente added.

The main quake was widely felt, either as a sharp jolt near the epicenter or a rolling motion farther away.

It shook buildings for several seconds in downtown Los Angeles.

The jolt also was felt 40 miles away in Sylmar to the northwest and 30 miles south in Huntington Beach.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

8:40 p.m.: This article was updated with the experience of a La Verne resident.

9:15 p.m.: This article was updated with information about the evacuation of dormitories at the University of La Verne and another resident’s experience.

8:10 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from a resident of La Verne.

8 p.m.: This article was updated with information on how widely the quake was felt.

7:50 p.m.: This article was updated with information from the La Verne Police Department and the local time of the quake.

This article was originally published at 7:35 p.m.

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