Inspectors are checking for structural damage after Friday's magnitude-5.1 quake and a weekend of aftershocks
By Jacob Rascon and Jonathan Lloyd
| Monday, Mar 31, 2014 | Updated 3:57 PM PDT
An Orange County elementary school might be closed for two weeks as authorities investigate damage after an earthquake Friday night that rattled a widespread area of Southern California.
School officials announced during the weekend that Fanning Elementary School would be closed Monday as inspectors assess damage. The superintendent of Brea Olinda Unified School District told NBC4 Monday morning that the school might be closed for two weeks because of damage related to Friday's magnitude-5.1 quake and aftershocks.
Authorities are investigating whether the shaking loosened protective coating on asbestos -- exposure to the mineral fiber used in building construction materials increases risk of developing lung disease. Once the Air Quality Management District accepts the district's cleanup plan, the classroom buildings will be fenced off during a process that might take two weeks, according to district officials.
"The site is being assessed for safety, including air quality," school officials said in a note to families.
Standalone rooms have been deemed safe, allowing some students and staff to return Tuesday. But the main building will be closed for the remainder of the week and "potentially longer," according to the school.
Changes to classroom assignments were outlined in the letter to parents.
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Books were shaken from shelves and school supplies, light fixtures, ceiling tiles and other items ended up on floors inside the 500-student school. Inspectors Monday are attempting to determine whether there is structural damage to the building.
The magnitude-5.1 earthquake near La Habra Friday evening was followed by a series of aftershocks that left six homes in the area red-tagged as inspectors attempted to determine whether they were structurally safe.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a series of aftershocks rumbled through the area on Saturday. One was magnitude-3.4, centered about a mile south of La Habra, at 9:02 a.m. Another one, magnitude 4.1, was centered about one mile southeast of Rowland Heights at 2:32 p.m. A magnitude 3.3 earthquake hit at 10:51 p.m. one mile south-southwest of La Habra, and a magnitude 3.1 aftershock, at 11:17 p.m., was centered one mile south-southeast of La Habra.
No serious injuries were reported as a result of the earthquake on Friday, which struck at 9:09 p.m. and ruptured water mains and gas lines, damaged homes and businesses, sent store merchandise crashing to the floor and caused a rockslide in Brea.
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