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Largest Quake In 25 Years Hits Bay Area; Napa Suffers Most Damage

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press

Police cars block the street outside a heavily damaged building in Napa following an early morning earthquake Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014.

Updated at 5:43 p.m.

From Associated Press

State and local roads leading to wineries south of Napa, around the community of Carneros, were closer to the quake's suspected origin and showed more damage than elsewhere. By the middle of the afternoon, road crews had patched a section of state Highway 121 where the roadbed had shifted, cracking open the surface. Nearby, crews repaired a local road where the roadbed had dropped several inches.

Off that road, vintner Richard Ward of Saintsbury winery oversaw workers righting giant toppled barrels and rescuing 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," he said, turning to point toward hills where the quake apparently started.

Ward lost 300 to 400 bottles in the winery's basement. The grape harvest was supposed to have started overnight tonight, but would now be pushed off a few days, he said. Had the harvest started last night, the quake would have caught the workers in the wine buildings, with the heavy barrels, when it struck, Ward said.

Updated at 5:23 p.m.

From Associated Press

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said at a news conference late Sunday afternoon that the situation had stabilized.

By midday, officials had a good sense that the fires were out and power was starting to be restored. "While it was bad, it wasn't as bad as it could be and it was very manageable from a regional perspective," he said.

Ghilarducci said about 90 to 100 homes were deemed uninhabitable. He said the next step was to continue damage assessments and get a cost estimate for potential federal assistance.

Aftershocks were expected to continue for several weeks, though State Geologist John Parrish said they would decrease in magnitude and it was unlikely that there would be a large follow-up earthquake. Still, he warned people to be careful because buildings that were damaged by the quake were now more susceptible to collapse from aftershocks.

Updated at 5 p.m.

From Associated Press

Pacific Gas and Electric has lowered the pressure on its Sonoma-to-Napa gas line and is monitoring all gas outlets for leaks, spokesman Jeff Smith said. The company has so far received 439 complaint calls about gas odors and has cut off gas to about 20 customers because of damaged equipment, Smith said. Anyone with concerns about a gas leak may call the company at 800-743-5002, he said.

As of 5 p.m., about 7,300 electricity customers are without power, he said.

Updated at 3:15 p.m.

From Associated Press

The largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years struck before dawn on Sunday near Napa, 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.

Earthquake Preparedness

When earthquakes happen like the one in Napa Valley Sunday, it reminds us that we need to be prepared. Here are tips from the American Red Cross:

If you are inside when the quake hits:

• Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.

• If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.

• Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.

• Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. When it is, use stairs rather than the elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

• Be aware that fire alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.

If you are outside when the quake hits:

• If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.

• If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.

• If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.

For more information, go to

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.

Napa city officials were keeping the public apprised of the damage with updates on its website.

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.

"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.

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.

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 for anyone trapped and responding to reports of 50 gas leaks.

Two of the fires happened at mobile home parks, including 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. Rawlins said she was awakened by an explosion after the quake and managed to escape unharmed, but lost all her 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."

The earthquake sent at least 120 people to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where officials set up a triage tent to handle the influx. Most patients had cuts, bumps and bruises suffered either in the quake, when they tried to flee their homes or while cleaning up, hospital CEO Walt Mickens said. Three people were admitted with broken bones and two for heart attacks.

The child in critical condition was struck by flying debris from a collapsed fireplace and had to be airlifted to a specialty hospital for a neurological evaluation, Callanan said.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press

Cellar worker Daniel Nelson looks over toppled barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon following an earthquake at the B.R. Cohn Winery barrel storage facility in Napa, Aug. 24, 2014.

The temblor struck about six miles south of Napa around 3:20 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the largest to shake the 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 fell.

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

Napa City Manager Mike Parness said at an afternoon news conference that 16 buildings were not safe to occupy, and there was only limited access to numerous other structures, mostly ones with broken windows. Officials said they were still assessing buildings in the area.

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.

"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.

The shaking, which lasted for 10 to 20 seconds depending on how close a person was to the epicenter, emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighboring Sonoma County running out of their houses.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman J.D. Guidi said close to 30,000 customers lost power right after the quake hit, but that number was down to around 19,000 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 was followed by numerous small aftershocks, the USGS said.

"A quake of that size in a populated area is of course widely felt throughout that region," said Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado.

California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Bartlett said cracks and damage to pavement closed the westbound Interstate 80 connector to westbound State Route 37 in Vallejo and westbound State Route 37 at the Sonoma off ramp. He said there hadn't been reports of injuries or people stranded in their cars, but there were numerous cases of flat tires from motorists driving over damaged roads.

Updated at 12:25 p.m.

From Associated Press:

Officials in the city of Napa say 15 to 16 buildings are no longer inhabitable after Sunday's magnitude-6.0 earthquake, and there is only limited access to numerous other structures.

Napa City Manager Mike Parness released the damage details at an afternoon news conference. Officials say they are still assessing buildings in the area.

Parness says the buildings to which only limited access is being granted mostly suffered broken windows.

The magnitude-6.0 earthquake that struck at 3:20 a.m. Sunday about 6 miles from the city of Napa ruptured water mains and gas lines, left two adults and a child critically injured, upended bottles and casks at some of Napa Valley's famed wineries and sent residents running out of their homes.

The earthquake is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989.

Updated at 9:50 a.m.

From Associated Press:

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the part of California's wine country hard-hit by a large earthquake.

The governor issued a proclamation directing state agencies to help respond to the 6.0-magnitude quake that struck early Sunday about 6 miles from the city of Napa.

Updated at 9:15 a.m.

From NPR:

Napa City Manager Mike Parnass has declared an emergency for the town of 80,000 after a strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Northern California, causing dozens of injuries, damaged buildings and power outages. The quake struck at 3:20 a.m. PT, the U.S. Geological Survey says.

"The declaration means we've exhausted our resources and need help from the outside," Parnass told reporters at a news conference.

He reported significant damage to buildings in the city, some of them of historic import.

Napa Fire Battalion Chief John Callahan said at least 89 people with quake-related injuries went to the city's Queen Valley Hospital. At least three people were critically hurt, including one adult with multiple fractures and a young child who was injured when a fireplace collapsed, he said.

Characterizing the other injuries, "I am going to assume these are all trauma-related," Callahan said.

He said many buildings had been damaged and that authorities had responded to six separate fires, including one at a mobile home park that destroyed several structures.

Callahan said there were "100 plus" reports of gas leaks.

The city's public works director, Jack La Rochelle, told reporters that there had been about 30 water main breaks reported.

Although Napa appeared to be hardest hit, The San Jose Mercury News says the area affected stretches from Santa Cruz to Wine Country, including 2.3 million people.

The USGS says the epicenter was just north of the Bay area, near Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley and American Canyon. The quake struck at a depth of 6.7 miles, the agency says. CBS San Francisco says it is the largest to hit the Bay Area since a magnitude-6.9 hit Loma Prieta in 1989 and was felt across Northern California.

Electric and gas utility PG&E's website shows more than 40,000 customers without power in the area in and around the epicenter are experiencing outages.

Craig Miller, reporting for member station KQED in San Francisco, says reports of possible damage to the Mare Island Bridge on Highway 37 have not been confirmed. Miller spoke with the bridge supervisor who said he wasn't aware of any closure of the span, although he did say there was damage to Sonoma Boulevard [nearby in the city of Vallejo] where pavement had buckled."

KQED's Miller says in Vallejo there are at least seven storefronts, including a Chase Bank, with windows out: "In some cases, glass had blown out into the middle of the street. This was a block with about seven different businesses, including a music story, a bridal store and a jewelry store. You can see that part of the ceiling or roof is coming down in the music store. It's really kind of bizarre — here's one block in Vallejo with all this damage, and then when you look across the street everything is fine."

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Lyall Davenport/AP

A photo provided by Lyall Davenport shows damage to a building in Napa, Calif. early Sunday.

Updated at 8:10 a.m.

From Associated Press:

Injuries are being reported after a large earthquake rolled through California's wine country early today, damaging some buildings and knocking out power to thousands. The extent of the damage isn't clear but a Napa fire captain says the shaking has caused fires, collapses and injuries. Another Napa fire official says two major injuries have been reported, and hospitals have been very busy with moderate injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.0-magnitude quake was centered about 6 miles southwest of Napa.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: USGS

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay area at about 3:20 a.m. PT, the U.S. Geological Survey reports, Aug. 24, 2014.

From NPR:

A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay area at about 3:20 a.m. PT, the U.S. Geological Survey reports, damaging buildings and causing thousands to lose electricity.

The San Jose Mercury News says the area affected stretches from Santa Cruz to Wine Country, including 2.3 million people.

There were no immediate reports of damage to Bay Area bridges, the Mercury News says. The Los Angeles Times, quoting an emergency dispatcher in the area as saying there have been "multiple medical calls."

The USGS says the epicenter was just north of the Bay area, near Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley and American Canyon. The quake struck at a depth of 6.7 miles, USGS says.

Electric and gas utility PG&E;'s website shows more than 40,000 customers without power in the area in and around the epicenter are experiencing outages.

CBS San Francisco reports that the quake, the largest to hit the Bay Area since a magnitude-6.9 hit Loma Prieta in 1989, was felt across Northern California.

KCBS Radio says callers to the news station report "significant shaking motion in the city of Napa, lasting for an extended time."

The station quotes Jessica Turner, from the U.S. Geological Survey, as saying there have already been 25 aftershocks in the region.

The CHP may be closing a bridge on Highway 37 in Vallejo while they inspect it for possible damage, KCBS says.

The Associated Press reports:

"The tremor set off car alarms and had residents of neighboring Sonoma County running out of their houses in the middle of night. Power was knocked out in some areas."A member of Napa County dispatch tells The Associated Press that there has been one report of structural damage, but additional details were not available."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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