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Shook Up, but Still Standing : Temblor: Aftershock jolts Valley residents' already frayed nerves. Trouble spots include a quake-damaged Sherman Oaks house that slides another 30 feet off its foundation.

March 21, 1994|JILL BETTNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday's 5.3 aftershock to the Northridge earthquake rattled San Fernando Valley residents' already-frayed nerves, but caused few problems at spots that were the hardest hit by the Jan. 17 quake.

One exception was in Sherman Oaks, where the aftershock sent a house at 3623 Dixie Canyon Ave. that slipped off its foundation in January tumbling another 30 feet down the hill. Residents of two homes below the house on Inwood Street had to be evacuated.

Eyewitness Luis Ortiz, who was polishing a car on Inwood Street when the slide began, said, "I saw the whole house coming down. I thought it was going to hit us."

But elsewhere in the Valley, the freeways held up, as did the Northridge Meadows apartment complex on Reseda Boulevard, where 16 people died in the January quake.

No freeways in the Los Angeles area were closed due to the earthquake, said Caltrans spokeswoman Margie Tiritilli.

Although a few freeways near the epicenter sustained minor damage, by Sunday afternoon Caltrans crews had cleared away the debris and shored up the damaged stretches.

On the Golden State Freeway near Balboa Boulevard, Caltrans crews replaced temporary asphalt patches made after the Jan. 17 quake that came loose during the aftershock. Other patches were also replaced at the interchange of the Simi Valley and San Diego freeways.

Caltrans officials had worried that the powerful aftershock would cause further damage to a portion of the San Diego Freeway near Rinaldi Street in Mission Hills that had been elevated on temporary support beams for repairs. But the support beams held fast.

Tiritilli said Caltrans crews will continue Monday to inspect freeways throughout Los Angeles. "It's an ongoing process," she said.

The street in front of the Northridge Meadows complex was crowded with gawkers when Sunday's aftershock rumbled through, as it has been nearly every weekend since the three-story building collapsed. But no one seemed upset.

"It was incredible," said Jamie DeMatoff, who sells souvenir quake T-shirts in a mall parking lot next to the crumbled complex. "Traffic came to a halt. All these cars were bouncing, and about 25 people came running out of the Mongolian Bar-B-Q (restaurant)."

"There were all these looky-loo tourists and they came out scared," he said. "They were saying, 'Was that the real big one?' and I was saying, 'No, that's not the big one. You'll know when the big one hits.' "

At the intersection of Balboa Boulevard and Rinaldi Street, water flowed from a broken hydrant, but it was a burble compared to the gusher of water and fire that spouted Jan. 17.

In North Hollywood, Karen Back, a free-lance writer, said her home was not hit nearly as hard as in January but "different things happened."

Back said in the January quake, "we lost our chimney, most of our china and dishes and had a computer that was severely damaged. We were cleaning up for a week."

This time, several household items that withstood the previous quake fell, including a couple of clocks and a perfume bottle that was an anniversary gift from her husband, John.

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"This shake was so different from the other aftershocks," Back said. "I can't believe they're calling this an aftershock, it felt so much like the Jan. 17 quake. Enough already."

Asked if that meant she was ready to leave Los Angeles, Back said: "I've been thinking about it because of the economic situation as well as the earthquake.

"This (Sunday's aftershock) puts another notch in the belt."

In Sherman Oaks, what is left of the former Dixie Avenue house perched precariously on the hillside was to be removed early today, said Frank Bush, an inspector for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.

The house had already been scheduled for demolition before Sunday's quake, Bush said. It is owned by Mary Bond, 85, who lived there 40 years before Jan. 17, neighbors said.

At Cal State Northridge, "We've found many new cracks, but nothing major yet," said engineer Chris Brock of Law/Crandall Inc., following Sunday's aftershock. The firm has been involved in work resulting from widespread damage to the university by the January quake.

The aftershock forced Sherman Oaks Fashion Square to close because of minor damage, including broken floor tiles and glass near the escalators, said Juan Baello, a security guard.

Fashion Square had just reopened Saturday for the first time since the Jan. 17 quake. Relatively few shoppers were in the mall when the aftershock hit because only 34 of its stores had finished cleaning up from the Northridge quake. Fashion Square planned to reopen again Monday.

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The Sherman Oaks Galleria, which was also forced to close temporarily by the Northridge quake, remained open Sunday, although about half of the 80 stores were closed by shop owners.

"Engineers were checking and there were no problems," said mall spokeswoman Pam Evertz.

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