SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A moderate earthquake shook an inland area of Southern California near San Bernardino on Tuesday night, giving a start to thousands across a heavily populated area with more than one person comparing it to a rumbling big rig.
There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries, however.
The magnitude-4.4 quake hit in foothills northwest of San Bernardino about 5:38 p.m. at a depth of about three miles, a report from the U.S. Geological Survey said. Aftershocks of magnitude 3.8 and 3.2 came minutes later, and dozens of tiny aftershocks followed in the next few hours.
People reported feeling the earthquake throughout the suburbs east of Los Angeles, which is about 50 miles southwest of the epicenter.
Brenda Torres, 24, a waitress at Papa Tony's Diner in San Bernardino said customers were a bit shook up but kept calm. Nothing in the restaurant rattled or broke and the quake was so short there wasn't even time to take cover under a table.
"At first I thought it was a semi-truck that had hit the building or something," Torres said.
Laura Melgoza, 23, a college student and cashier at WaBa Grill in San Bernardino, said she and her co-workers headed toward the front of the building as the restaurant shook.
"I was just panicking," she said. "It was the biggest one that I've felt."
Tim Franke, a dispatch supervisor with the San Bernardino County Fire Department communication center, said there were no reports of damage or injuries, but the shaking was felt "numerous times" at the department.
"It was like a big truck was coming in," Franke said.
Police in the area also said they had no reports of problems from the quake.
The quake came near the intersection of the San Jacinto, San Andreas and Cucamonga faults, three of the largest in Southern California, but it was too small to determine which fault was responsible, the USGS said.
There have been nine earthquakes above magnitude-4 In the general area in the last 10 years.
"There's nothing particularly different about it that we can see at this point," Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, told KNBC-TV.
Traditionally earthquakes of this size are a monthly occurrence in Southern California, but "it's been quieter for the last few years," Jones said.
There is a 5 percent chance that the quake, or any quake, is a precursor of something bigger, Jones said.