Strong California quake shakes famed wine country

Largest earthquake to shake Bay Area since 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989

The top corner of a building is exposed following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A large earthquake rolled through California's northern Bay Area early Sunday, damaging some buildings, igniting fires, knocking out power to tens of thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The top corner of a building is exposed following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A large earthquake rolled through California's northern Bay Area early Sunday, damaging some buildings, igniting fires, knocking out power to tens of thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

NAPA, Calif. (AP) — The largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years struck before dawn on Sunday, sending scores of people to hospitals, igniting fires, damaging historic buildings and knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses in California’s wine country.

The magnitude-6.0 quake, which ruptured water mains and gas lines and damaged some of the region’s famed wineries, sent residents running out of their homes in the darkness. Three people — two adults and a child — were critically injured.

Photos: San Francisco Bay area earthquake

Bricks and rubble cover the sidewalk in front of a heavily damaged building following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Bricks and rubble cover the sidewalk in front of a heavily damaged building following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Dazed residents too fearful of aftershocks to go back to bed wandered through Napa’s historic downtown, where the quake had shorn a 10-foot chunk of bricks and concrete from the corner of an old county courthouse. Boulder-sized pieces of rubble littered the lawn and street in front of the building and the hole left behind allowed a view of the offices inside.

College student Eduardo Rivera said the home he shares with six relatives shook so violently that he kept getting knocked back into his bed as he tried to flee.

“When I woke up, my mom was screaming, and the sound from the earthquake was greater than my mom’s screams,” the 20-year-old Rivera said.

While inspecting the shattered glass at her husband’s storefront office in downtown Napa, Chris Malloy described calling for her two children in the dark as the quake rumbled under the family’s home, tossing heavy pieces of furniture for several feet.

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“It was shaking and I was crawling on my hands and knees in the dark, looking for them,” the 45-year-old woman said, wearing flip flops on feet left bloodied from crawling through broken glass.

State of emergency

Grace Hardy cleans up wine bottles at nakedwines.com in Napa, Calif., following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Winemakers in California’s storied Napa Valley woke up to thousands of broken bottles, barrels and gallons of ruined wine as a result of Sunday’s earthquake
Grace Hardy cleans up wine bottles at nakedwines.com in Napa, Calif., following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Winemakers in California’s storied Napa Valley woke up to thousands of broken bottles, barrels and gallons of ruined wine as a result of Sunday’s earthquake

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for southern Napa County, directing state agencies to respond with equipment and personnel. President Barack Obama was briefed on the earthquake, the White House said, and federal officials were in touch with state and local emergency responders.

The temblor struck about six miles south of Napa and lasted 10 to 20 seconds, according to the United States Geological Survey. It was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60 people, most when an Oakland freeway collapsed.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where an outdoor triage tent was set up to handle the influx, reported treating 172 people in the emergency room, although hospital officials could not say how many of them were there for bruises and cuts suffered in the quake and how many for more routine injuries and illnesses.

Twelve people were admitted for broken bones, heart attacks and other problems directly related to the earthquake, including an adult who remained in critical condition on Sunday night and a 13-year-old boy.

The teen was hit by flying debris from a collapsed fireplace and had to be airlifted to the children’s hospital at the University of California Davis hospital for a neurological evaluation. He condition was listed as serious, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown said.

Napa Fire Department Operations Chief John Callanan said the city had exhausted its own resources trying to extinguish at least six fires after 60 water mains ruptured, as well as transporting injured residents, searching homes and collapsed carports for anyone trapped and responding to 100 reports of leaking gas.
Two of the fires happened at mobile home parks, including the one where four homes were destroyed and two others damaged, Callanan said. A ruptured water main there delayed efforts to fight the blaze until pumper trucks could be brought in, he said.

Nola Rawlins, 83, was one of the Napa Valley Mobile Home Park residents left homeless by the fire. No one was injured in the blaze, but Rawlins said she lost all her jewelry, papers and other belongings.

“There were some explosions, and it was burning. Everybody was out in the street,” she said. “I couldn’t get back in the house because they told everybody to go down to the clubhouse, so I didn’t get anything out of the house.”

Damage estimates TBD
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents Napa, said federal and state officials had conducted an aerial survey of the area, but they wouldn’t have a cost estimate for the damage until they can get on the ground and into buildings. He said that while Napa suffered the worst of it, there also was significant damage about 17 miles south on Mare Island in Vallejo, a former naval shipyard where a museum and historic homes were declared uninhabitable.

“It’s bad any way you calculate it. But it could have been a heck of a lot worse,” Thompson said.

While inspecting the shattered glass at her husband’s storefront office in downtown Napa, Chris Malloy described calling for her two children in the dark as the quake rumbled under the family’s home, tossing heavy pieces of furniture for several feet.

“It was shaking, and I was crawling on my hands and knees in the dark, looking for them,” the 45-year-old woman said, wearing flip flops on feet left bloodied from crawling through broken glass.

Impact across the region 

The top corner of a building is exposed following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A large earthquake rolled through California's northern Bay Area early Sunday, damaging some buildings, igniting fires, knocking out power to tens of thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The top corner of a building is exposed following an earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A large earthquake rolled through California’s northern Bay Area early Sunday, damaging some buildings, igniting fires, knocking out power to tens of thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Sunday’s quake was felt widely throughout the region, with people reporting its effects more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border. Amtrak suspended service through the Bay area so tracks could be inspected.

Vintner Richard Ward of Saintsbury Winery south of Napa watched Sunday afternoon as workers righted toppled barrels and rescued a 500-pound grape de-stemmer that the quake had thrown to the ground.

“That’s what happens when you’re a mile from the epicenter,” said Ward, who lost 300 to 400 bottles in the winery’s basement. The grape harvest was supposed to start overnight Monday, but it would now be pushed off a few days, he said. Had the harvest started a day earlier, the quake would have caught the workers among the heavy barrels when it struck, Ward said.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, told an afternoon news conference some 90 to 100 homes and buildings were deemed not habitable.

A Red Cross evacuation center was set up at a church, and crews were assessing damage to homes, bridges and roadways. The Napa Unified School District said classes were canceled for students Monday and that students would not be allowed to return to schools until they were checked.

“There’s collapses, fires,” said Napa Fire Capt. Doug Bridewell, standing in front of large pieces of masonry that broke loose from an early 20th-century office building where a fire had just been extinguished. “That’s the worst shaking I’ve ever been in.”

Bridewell said he had to climb over fallen furniture in his own home to check on his family before reporting to duty.

Power Outages

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman J.D. Guidi said some 30,000 customers lost power after the quake hit, but that number was down to around 7,300 later in the day, most of them in Napa.

He said crews were working to make repairs, but it was unclear when electricity would be restored. The depth of the earthquake was just under seven miles, and it was followed by numerous small aftershocks, the USGS said.

On Sunday night in Southern California, a small, magnitude-3.3 earthquake hit off the region’s coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the temblor struck at 7:50 p.m. and was centered about 5 miles southwest of San Pedro and 6 miles southeast of Rancho Palos Verdes. There were no initial reports of damages, police said.

 

 

 

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