A Ten-Second Wake-Up Call

It wasn't the big one, but a 6.1 quake stirs fear in California

The initial jolt lasted only ten seconds, but that was enough time for the scary question to race through the minds of millions of Californians last week: Is this the big one, the monster quake along the San Andreas Fault that geologists consider inevitable? As it turned out, the earthquake was centered between Whittier and Pasadena, 30 miles from the San Andreas Fault, and it destroyed more nerves than it did buildings. Nonetheless, the shock reminded area residents just how quickly the big quake could come. Warned a California disaster-planning official: "This was a little wake-up call."

The quake measured 6.1...

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