Earthquakes hit Southern California

FONTANA, Calif. - A swarm of earthquakes - the largest a magnitude-4.4 - rattled San Bernardino County on Thursday, dumping dishes and pictures and jangling nerves but causing no major damage or injuries, officials and residents said.

The earthquakes started around 4 a.m. with a magnitude-3.1 temblor centered about a mile north of Fontana. More than a dozen temblors followed in the area, according to the California Institute of Technology.

The 4.4 quake struck at 6:35 a.m. and was felt as far away as the Fairfax area of Los Angeles and in southern Orange County. Fontana is about 55 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Krista MacCharles, 35, said she initially thought the magnitude-4.4, was "the big one."

She had just arrived at the business she co-owns about 11Ú2 miles from the epicenter and was about to style her hair when the quake struck with a jolt and a rumble.

"The clock fell and knocked over my coffee and stuff started falling off our shelves," she said. "It seemed like it lasted forever. I thought, 'Oh my God, it's the big one!"'

Earthquake swarms typically build for a day or so then die down, said Kate Hutton, a seismologist at the institute. By early afternoon, the quakes had all but subsided.

The temblors have been categorized as strike-slip quakes, which occur when faults move horizontally.

The quakes did not occur on the San Jacinto or Cucamonga faults - two major faults in the area - and likely erupted on smaller faults, she said.


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