6.0 quake rattles Napa; no fatalities reported

NAPA — A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rattled through Northern California early Sunday morning, the largest temblor to hit the Napa Valley area in nearly 25 years.

The quake struck at 3:20 local time near American Canyon about 6 miles southwest of Napa, the USGS reported. It's the largest quake since the Loma Prieta temblor in 1989.

In this picturesque town, known for its lush vineyards, robust wines and rolling hills, the full extent of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake was becoming clear by Sunday morning.

Throughout the downtown area, there was no power. Alarms of all kinds — fire, burglar and car — were blaring.

Residents trickled into the five blocks that make up the historic downtown to see the damage. On Second Street, the masonry, wires and girders that make up the corner of the roof of a three story historic building hung precariously over the sidewalk. A gaping hole is left where the masonry used to be. On the ground below a pile of bricks and rubble littered the sidewalk. Falling concrete has damaged trees.

The historic Napa Valley courthouse has also lost a portion of its roof and police have begun to cordon off sections of the downtown to keep crowds away from the debris.

Napa's local medical center, Queen of the Valley Hospital, treated dozens of patients, including two with major injuries, the Napa city officials said in its 6:30 a.m. PT briefing. It is calling 10 other ambulances from surrounding areas into service.

The earthquake destroyed four mobile homes and two others are on fire in the northern section of Napa, officials said in an update posted on the city's website.

The quake seriously damaged Napa infrastructure, included 50 gas main breaks and 30 water main breaks, the update said. Both of the city's water treatment plants are operating and water remains safe to drink, the officials said. The quake damaged at least three historic buildings, including the Sam Kee Laundry, the Goodman Library and the Napa County Courthouse.

Douglas Edwards, 27, Napa resident, said the earthquake woke him up from a sound sleep.

"It was shaking so hard I was barely able to get myself and my daughter out," he said. "When I stood up, the floor moved so much, I feel back down again. I ran outside and you could see the transformers exploding in the sky. It was just flash, flash, flash."

He said his home was completely wrecked. Everything fell off the walls and furniture was upended. The only thing that didn't crash to the floor, he said, has a framed picture of the Last Supper.

Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd inspected damage at the Napa County administration building early Sunday morning.

"It's devastated in there," he said. Ceilings collapsed, furniture scattered and file cabinets were upturned and on the floor. He said normally the building would have been the site of emergency services coordination, however, because of the damage, emergency operations were moved to the sheriff's office in the southern part of the county.

"It'll be some time before we can go back to work in there," he said.

Dodd said the historic three-story Winship building, which lost a corner of its roof, looks to be a total loss. He said it had been completely renovated 10 years ago, and the renovation included a seismic upgrade, which is supposed to make building able to withstand an earthquake.

Dodd says he was aware of no fatalities, though he said several people were injured from falling glass and debris.

Maria De Guzman, a 44-year-old federal worker who lives in American Canyon, was awakened by the temblor.

"It just kept rumbling and rumbling," she said. "And it kept getting stronger and stronger. This was the strongest earthquake I ever felt."

Her dog jumped up when the rattling started and "was looking confused." De Guzman and her husband have been feeling aftershocks this morning but said their home has sustained no damage from what they can see, she said.

Mike Desimoni was woken by Sunday morning's quake.

"It was bad. Worse thank the '89 quake," he said, referring to the Loma Prieta quake. "It rolled for about 30 seconds.

Desimoni drove to downtown Napa to see how his property there had fared. His family purchased the Alexandria Building in downtown Napa in the 1990s.

"It had been earthquake-retrofitted in the 1980s" he said.

Now the roof of the building hangs precariously over the sidewalk and bricks and rubble fill the sidewalk and street in front of it.

"We're going to rebuild and move forward. That's all you can do. "

The quake — which occurred at a depth of just less than seven miles — was felt as far north as Sacramento and as far south as Santa Cruz and was immediately followed by a series of small aftershocks.

The USGS said the quake is likely to produce 30 to 70 small aftershocks with magnitude 3 to 5 within the next week. The probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock with a magnitude of 5 or greater in the next week is 54%, the USGS said.

The quake is the strongest non-Alaska temblor to hit the USA so far this year, according to USGS. About five quakes of this magnitude or stronger hit the USA each year, many in or near Alaska.

Contributing: Donna Leinwand Leger, Katharine Lackey, Marisol Bello, Catalina Camia, Doyle Rice, USA TODAY


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