Earthquake Today in California: Magnitude 6.1 Quake Hits; 3 Critically Injured, 87 at Hospital, Significant Damages Reported (With Photos)

Bay Area earthquake strongest since 1989 Loma Prieta
By Steve Ispas, Epoch Times Staff
August 24, 2014 Updated: June 24, 2015    

SAN FRANCISCO—For some it was mild shaking for some it was severe, and others slept right through it. But, the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred Sunday morning at 3:20 a.m. was the strongest since the 1989 Loma Prieta which killed 63 and caused significant damage, including the collapse of a section of the former Bay Bridge.

Sunday’s earthquake left two adults and one child critically injured and Queen of the Valley hospital has treated 87 people, the city of Napa in California wine country said in a statement. Most patients have cuts, bumps, bruises, said Vanessa DeGier, spokeswoman for the hospital in Napa. She says the facility has treated a hip fracture and heart attack, but it’s unclear if it was related to the 6.0-magnitude earthquake. The hospital has set up a triage tent and many people are still coming in, DeGier said.

The quake damaged multiple historic buildings and knocked out power to tens of thousands on Sunday and caused six significant fires, including at a mobile home park, Napa Division Fire Chief Darren Drake said. Four mobile homes have been destroyed and two others damaged, the city said. Several other smaller fires have been reported and firefighting efforts have been complicated by broken water mains.

Preliminary information from the National Tsunami Warning Center indicated the earthquake occurred at a depth of 5.5 miles and lasted about 20 seconds.

Luckily—if you can call it that—it was centered in a less populated area, that of Napa Valley wineries, 55 miles southwest of Sacramento and 16 miles from Napa. However, buildings have collapsed and hospitals are busy.

The Bay Area has not been hit by a major earthquake in 25 years and according to many the area is overdue for one. Whether this jolt is relieving pressure on the faults or making it worse is not known at this time.

The National Tsunami Warning Center reported 3 minutes after the strike that no tsunami is expected.

Several San Jose residents interviewed by Epoch Times did not feel the jolts as they slept through it. Others did, as they were awaken during sleep by the jolts. Fuqi Li, 58, of Sunnyvale was awaken by the earthquake. “The door was shaking and the bed was swinging from east to west. It was pretty strong.” She was not scared but took her a while to fall back asleep. “If it was any stronger, I would have run outside”. Originally from China, Ms. Li had felt strong earthquakes before in China, so one can say she is used to them. She also felt the 1976 Tanghshan earthquake that killed over 300,000 people.

Sherry Lin, 43, was up in her Sunnyvale home around 3:15 a.m., when her 2-year-old son, Andy, awoke. As she was putting him back to sleep, just about 2 seconds before the shaking started, she heard her cat jump on the fence in the back yard next to her window in what seemed to be a panic.

“There’s collapses, fires,” said Napa Fire Capt. Doug Bridewell, standing 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.”

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.

Three historic buildings in Napa have been damaged, including the county courthouse, and at least two downtown commercial buildings have been severely damaged. A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at a high school and crews are assessing damage to homes.

The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighboring Sonoma County running out of their houses and talking about damage inside their homes. Officials say widespread power outages have been reported in the area.

California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Hill told KTVU-TV that road damage appears confined to the Napa and Sonoma areas. There appears to be no damage to major bridges in the Bay Area.

 

The Latest on Damaging Earthquake in California

This is what Associated Press reporters on the scene are learning following the largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years:

3:33 p.m. PDT

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has reduced the number of customers without power to about 17,000, spokesman Jeff Smith said. Right after the earthquake hit 12 hours ago, about 70,000 people were without power, he said.

2:46 p.m. PDT

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is working to restore power to 30,000 customers after the earthquake, spokesman Jeff Smith said.

There have been “no reports of significant damage” to the company’s equipment, Smith said. Crews are continuing to assess the situation, he added.

If customers smell gas or experience an emergency, they should call the company immediately, Smith said.

Customers should not try to turn their gas on themselves, he said. Customers should call Pacific Gas and Electric “to get your gas back on” to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, Smith said.

2:25 p.m. PDT

The California Department of Transportation has inspected San Francisco Bay Area state highways and structures and says all damage appears to be minor.

The agency says bridges and roadways are open and safe for travel.

2:14 p.m. PDT

All Napa Valley Unified School District campuses will be closed Monday. Justin Siena High School will also be closed.

2:14 p.m. PDT

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement that she will be sending staffers to hard-hit Napa on Monday and said: “I will be talking to local officials about how we can help ensure that residents, businesses and communities have the resources they need to recover and rebuild.”

2:14 p.m. PDT

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, which treated 120 people, has some damage from the earthquake. That included burst pipes in a non-patient area, ceiling tiles falling off in office areas and minor structural damage to an outbuilding.

Spokeswoman Vanessa DeGier said: “We are open 24 hours a day and so some of our staff did sustain some injuries,” which she characterized as minor.

2:14 p.m. PDT

Gracie Ramirez, 19, was at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa to visit her sister-in-law, Connie Navarro, who gave birth to a boy about 10 minutes before the quake struck.

Ramirez said: “The nurses were grabbing the baby and, you know, trying to check all his fingers and toes, and then ‘boom.’

“The computers fell, the hospital was a mess, they told me that one of the nurses was injured because a computer fell on her.”

1:55 p.m. PDT

Napa Public Works Director Jack LaRochelle says it could take as long as a week to repair 60 water mains that broke or sprung leaks. He says residents serviced by mains that had to be shut down for repairs could be without water in their homes for that long.

LaRochelle stressed that it was still safe to drink from municipal taps, and the water plants for the city were not damaged.

1:55 p.m. PDT

Officials said tourists planning to visit Napa Valley should check whether their accommodations were affected, but they said much of the valley was not impacted.

1:55 p.m. PDT

Though the damage appeared to be most significant in Napa, other cities nearby were also affected. About 15 miles south in Vallejo, city officials said 41 buildings were damaged, primarily in the downtown area and on Mare Island, and there were 16 water main breaks.

Congressman Mike Thompson, who represents Napa, says a museum and homes that belonged to officers when Mare Island served as a naval shipyard were declared uninhabitable.

1:32 p.m. PDT

The earthquake couldn’t have come at a worse time for winemakers in the storied Napa Valley, which has just started harvesting the 2014 crop. Thousands of bottles and barrels broke.

Tom Montgomery, a winemaker for B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen, California, said: “It’s devastating. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

1:32 p.m. PDT

Napa City Manager Mike Parness says it is too early to estimate damages. He said: “Right now we’re still in initial response mode where we’re trying to find out what the conditions are. Once we have that identified then we will start putting numbers to it and try to get a better handle on it. We really can’t do that right now. It’s only been a few hours.”

12:58 p.m. PDT

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

12:58 p.m. PDT

Napa City Manager Mike Parness says 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, mostly ones with broken windows. Officials say they are still assessing buildings in the area.

 
Epoch Times staff member Larry Ong and The Associated Press contributed to this report.