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Earthquake: Fullerton apartment complex red-tagged

Earthquake: Fullerton apartment complex red-tagged
The Fullerton Fire Department checks for damage to an apartment complex on the 2600 block of Associated Road in Fullerton after Friday's 5.1 earthquake. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A group of renters in Fullerton didn't know who to believe when it came to the safety of an apartment complex severely damaged by Friday night's big shaker.

The quake left cracks in several walls, some of them two inches wide and about 30 feet in length.

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Managers of the Camden Parkside apartment complex in the 2600 block of Associated Road advised nearly two dozen tenants that they could reenter their units until told otherwise.

However, the Fullerton Fire Department had declared the apartment block uninhabitable because of structural damage.

Trouble is, fire authorities had not placed red tags on the doors of damaged buildings to formalize their decision.

"We had the fire department telling us it's unsafe – and management is telling us something different," said tenant Ashish Tejnani, 30. However, he added, "the manager told me, 'If you feel uncomfortable about this situation, in good faith I will let you out of your lease."

"It was all very confusing," he said. "Worse, the cracks are terrifying."

The dispute was resolved at 2:30 p.m. when fire officials returned with red tags to officially mark the damaged buildings.

Just as authorities arrived on the scene, a 4.1 aftershock rattled the complex yet again and had vehicles rocking side to side like toys.

Jeff Otter, a chemical engineer who lives nearby, echoed the sentiments of many earthquake-wary Fullerton residents Saturday afternoon.

"When it hit, I thought, 'Hey, I thought this thing was supposed to be over,' " he said.

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