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Quake Causes Little Damage

Cleanup was largely complete Saturday following one of the biggest earthquakes in Washington state in the past 34 years.

Aside from a handful of toppled chimneys and broken windows, little damage to housing or public buildings was evident, electricity was back to normal and only a few businesses appeared to have major damage following the 5.5 magnitude jolt Friday evening, officials said.

"We are doing very well," said Karin Frinell-Hanrahan, Grays Harbor County deputy director of emergency management.

She estimated fewer than two dozen homes had significant damage. No one came to a shelter that was opened Friday night in Aberdeen, she said.

All bridges in the county were cleared after being checked for damage, she added.

The hardest hit business appeared to be Moore's Furniture and Appliance Store in downtown Aberdeen, where damage was estimated at $250,000 after a decorative wall collapsed onto the roof, caving in the ceiling.

Damage also was reported to the top floor of the county courthouse in Montesano, 10 miles west of Satsop.

Electricity was restored by 3:30 a.m. to the last of as many as 4,500 homes and businesses that were in the dark, most because of a fire in a power substation connector following the quake, Grays Harbor Public Utility District officials said.

Cascade Natural Gas Corp. got about three dozen calls, the most serious involving appliances that broke free from gas hookups in homes, district manager Glen Brittain said. No gas mains were broken, he said.

The quake, centered beneath this small town between Olympia and Aberdeen, was unrelated to a much smaller tremor nearly 24 hours earlier between Tacoma and Seattle, said Stephen Malone, a geophysics research professor at the University of Washington.

"The quake last night was in a totally different system," Malone said.