Jim Kerstetter reported from Napa, Calif., and Ian Lovett from Los Angeles. Rick Rojas contributed reporting from New York.
Strong Earthquake Shakes Bay Area in California
NAPA, Calif. — A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 hit the San Francisco Bay Area early Sunday morning, causing injuries and damage in Napa and knocking out power to thousands of people across the region.
The temblor struck about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon — six miles south of Napa — around 3:20 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey. It was the most powerful earthquake to hit the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, which collapsed the Bay Bridge. At least four aftershocks were reported Sunday.
Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa treated more than 87 patients in its emergency room on Sunday morning, said a spokeswoman for the hospital, Vanessa DeGier. The injuries were largely limited to cuts and abrasions, Ms. DeGier said. Most patients were released after treatment, but some people were also admitted for more severe injuries — including a hip fracture and a heart attack. One patient, a child said to be in critical condition, was airlifted to a hospital in Santa Rosa.
Four homes were destroyed by a fire at a mobile home park, Napa officials said, and two others were still burning. At at least two buildings downtown were severely damaged. About 50 gas main breaks were reported, along with at least one water main break, Napa officials said. Portions of two highways, one of which buckled about a foot during the earthquake, were closed on Sunday morning, and power remained out to more than 60,000 customers.
Two residents of the mobile home park, Lynda and Bob Castell-Blanch, both 60, said they were jarred away by a loud thump and roll.
“It was violent,” Mr. Castell-Blanch said. “Things were flying all over the place. There was woman screaming from one of the houses, so loud it was total mayhem.”
The couple said they had enough time to gather their cats and his vintage guitars before evacuating. “That was all we had time for,” Mr. Castell-Blanch said, while they were trying to buy water at a store down the road from the mobile home park.
The shelves at the store, the Ranch Market, had been emptied into the aisles. The smell of wine wafted throughout.
Arik Housley, the store’s owner, estimated at least $100,000 in damage at the two markets he owns in the area. He said that, like many people, he did not carry earthquake insurance because of the high premium.
At a restaurant next door, workers could be seen sweeping up broken glass and spilled wine.
Janet Upton, a resident of Napa in the wine country northeast of San Francisco, said she awoke early Sunday morning to violent shaking and the sound of loud crashing all around her, soon followed by rolling waves.
“The house is just trashed,” said Ms. Upton, who is a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and is married to Scott Upton, the Napa County fire chief.
“My kitchen is a wreck; it’s all down” Ms. Upton said. “The TV, all the stuff on the walls. A huge dresser just barely missed my daughter.”
Buildings across the city were damaged, including the county courthouse, a historic building.
“There’s collapses, fires,” the Napa fire captain, Doug Bridewell, told The Associated Press as he stood in front of large pieces of masonry that broke loose from a turn-of-the-century office building where a fire had just been extinguished. “That’s the worst shaking I’ve ever been in.”
Mr. Bridewell, who said he had to climb over fallen furniture in his own home to check on his family before reporting to duty, said he was starting to see more reports of injuries.
In her neighborhood, Ms. Upton said the chimneys of several homes were knocked off, while the front of another home had sheared off. The entire area smelled strongly of gas, she said. The sound of sirens continued unabated for two hours after the earthquake, she added, but it had since quieted down.
“We helped all neighbors turn their gas off,” Ms. Upton said. “I’m just grateful my family and neighbors are all OK.”
At least two aftershocks shook the area on Sunday morning, though neither was as strong as the initial earthquake, which hit between two major faults at a depth of 6.7 miles below the surface, according to the Geological Survey.
California transportation officials were still examining the region’s bridges for any damage, but they appeared to have survived the earthquake unscathed.
“No abnormalities have been found on any of the bridges at this time,” said Tamie McGowen, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.
The geological agency said the depth of the earthquake was just less than seven miles, and numerous small aftershocks had occurred in the Napa wine country.
“A quake of that size in a populated area is, of course, widely felt throughout that region,” Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., told The Associated Press. “The 6.0 is a sizable quake for this area. It’s a shallow quake. It’s about 6 miles deep. We received hundreds of reports on our website from people that felt it in the surrounding area.”