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Earthquake swarm damages buildings in downtown Brawley

August 26, 2012 |  2:08 pm

A handful of buildings in downtown Brawley had minor damage after an earthquake swarm rattled the area Sunday, officials said.

Capt. Jesse Zendejas of the Brawley Fire Department described the damage as "cosmetic" and said it occurred in at least three buildings dating to the 1930s. Crews were still assessing other areas of the city, he said, but no injuries had been reported.

Imperial County firefighters were also assisting in the survey.

The first quake — a magnitude 3.8 temblor — occurred at 10:02 a.m. about three miles northwest of Brawley, and was followed by a series of other quakes in the same general area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The largest was a magnitude 5.3 -- downgraded from a 5.4 -- that struck just after 12:30 p.m., but the numbers may be revised.

The USGS' "Do You Feel It" system shows the quakes were felt as far away as  San Diego, Temecula and San Clemente. The 5.3 quake was also felt in Moreno Valley, Indio, National City and Palm Desert.

Thomas Jordan, director of the USC-based Southern California Earthquake Center, called the activity a "very active swarm" — something not unusual for the southern edge of the San Andreas Fault, which has seen similar occurrences in recent years.

This swarm could continue to rumble the region for a few days, Jordan added.

"It's been pretty productive so far," he said. "It's a vigorous one. We got some pretty good-sized events."

As data continued to roll in, Jordan said, scientists would study to swarm to learn how the sequence developed and what impact it could have on the fault.

"We're always concerned where there is significant seismic activity because that means there is a higher probability of having more seismic activity," he said.


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— Kate Mather

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Image: Location of the epicenter. Credit: Google Maps