5.1 earthquake: Significant damage reported in some areas

A series of temblors, punctuated by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake Friday night near La Habra, did more than just rattle nerves a few miles away in Fullerton, where residents had to deal with no water service, property damage and, in some cases, finding other accommodations.

Throughout the city, crews were working to repair broken water mains, leaking gas lines and other damage.

At least seven 8-inch water mains were broken, leaving an estimated 100 homes and businesses without water Saturday morning, officials said.

PHOTOS: 5.1 earthquake rattles L.A., Orange County


In the middle of the intersection of Gilbert Street and Rosecrans, a crew armed with shovels, earth movers and massive stainless water main clamps labored in a 12-by-20-foot hole eight feet under the pavement.

“We have five leaks as big as this one in this area alone,” worker Ed McClain said. “None of us slept a wink last night. We’ll keep going until these problems are fixed.”

Swaths of Gilbert Street had also been undermined by gushing water, leaving bowl-shaped depressions in the roadway.

Among those left high and dry was Sarah Lee, director of a nearby college preparatory business.


“Let me show you what we’re dealing with,” she said, turning the handle of the bathroom sink faucet. “Nothing.”

Lee then tapped the toilet handle and frowned: “Nothing.”

In the nearby community of Brea, which is served by the Fullerton Fire Department, a broken water main caused “moderate to heavy damage” at City Hall, said Fullerton fire Battalion Chief John Stokes.

In all, more than 70 people remained displaced at midday Saturday -- 54 of them from an apartment complex in the 2600 block of Associated Road where 20 units were red-tagged after the building suffered a cracked foundation, Stokes said.

Cracks of up to 2 inches wide could be seen extending roughly 30 feet into the property and building.

Fullerton firefighters also red-tagged six residences that had been found to be unsafe for occupancy, said Tom Schultz, the department’s deputy chief of operations.

Officials had initially reported eight homes as having been red-tagged, but Schultz said that number was revised after a full survey of the city.

Most of the damaged residences are in northern Fullerton, closer to the epicenter of the magnitude 5.1 quake that struck at 9:09 p.m. near La Habra, where 38 people spent the night at a Red Cross shelter. The quake was part of a swarm of temblors that started with a magnitude 3.6 quake at 8:03 p.m.


FULL COVERAGE: California earthquakes

The quake also left its mark at dozens of homes in the vicinity of El Rancho Vista and Calle Candela in Fullerton: cracked stucco, collapsed brick walls and toppled mailboxes. The shaking also knocked over two life-size statues.

Standing next to a barrel filled to the brim with broken porcelain dishes, Denis Lesemme, a neighborhood resident since 1963, sighed and said, “Last night, after it happened, I wasn’t nervous or scared.”

“But look at me now,” he added, extended his arms to display his trembling hands. “I’ve never shaken like this before in my life.”

Twitter: @LouisSahagan

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