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Strong California quake causes injuries, damage



By ELLEN KNICKMEYER

NAPA, Calif. (AP) --The largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years sent scores of people to hospitals, ignited fires, damaged multiple historic buildings and knocked out power to tens of thousands in California's wine country on Sunday.

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck at 3:20 a.m. 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 in the darkness.

Dazed residents too fearful of aftershocks to go back to bed wandered at dawn 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. Bolder-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, 20, 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," Rivera said.

While inspecting the shattered glass at her husband's storefront office in downtown Napa, Chris Malloy, 45, described calling for her two children in the dark as the quake rumbled under the family's home, throwing heavy pieces of furniture 3 or 4 feet and breaking them.

"It was shaking and I was crawling on my hands and knees in the dark, looking for them," she said, wearing flip flops on feet left bloodied from crawling through broken glass.

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

Napa Fire Department Operations Chief John Callanan said the city has exhausted its own resources trying to extinguish six fires, some in places with broken water mains; transporting injured residents; searching homes for anyone who might be trapped; and answering calls about gas leaks and downed power lines.

Two of the fires happened at mobile home parks, including one where four homes were destroyed and two others damaged, Callanan said.

The earthquake sent at least 87 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, bruises, said Vanessa DeGier, hospital spokeswoman said. She says the facility has treated a hip fracture and heart attack, but it's unclear if it was related to the quake.

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

The earthquake is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the USGS said. That temblor struck the area on Oct. 17, 1989, during a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, 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. People reported 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.

In Napa, at least three historic buildings were damaged, including the county courthouse, and at least two downtown commercial buildings have been severely damaged. A Red Cross evacuation center was set up at a high school, and crews were assessing damage to homes, bridges and roadways.

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

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.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman J.D. Guidi said close to 30,000 lost power right after the quake hit, but the number was down just under 19,000, most of them in Napa. He says crews are working to make repairs, but it's unclear when electricity would be restored.

The depth of the earthquake was just less than 7 miles, and numerous small aftershocks have occurred, 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 says there haven't been reports of injuries or people stranded in their cars, but there are numerous flat tires from motorists driving over damaged roads.

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Hits California

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emegan1 August 24 2014 at 12:14 PM

I live in the foothills of Northern CA. We did not feel it. I do notice the insensitivity of people posting here. You all are a sorry bunch of negative idiots.

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13 replies
dtmatcri August 24 2014 at 12:41 PM

The worst disaster to hit California has been the flood of illegal Mexicans turning a once prosperous area into an extension of cesspool Tijuana. Thank you Jerry Brown, Obama, Pelosi for causing this.

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35 replies
Nona VanDamme August 24 2014 at 12:29 PM

comments of political nature shows the missing intelligence of people posting here. All parts of this land has their own natural disaster. Is that all you have to do all day is post ignorant comments? I hope everyone is ok. waiting to hear about the area of Glen Ellen. ??

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8 replies
anunscriptedlife August 24 2014 at 12:02 PM

I am happy it wasn't the big one. And I live on the East Coast. Don't want harm to come to anyone anywhere for any reason.

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3 replies
chuck August 24 2014 at 12:43 PM

Calif. is sinking into the ocean due to the load of lib's. the state cant take the BS anymore. but we will all win in the end when the polition from libs in the ocean goes away. what a wonderfull world it will be with so many libs gone.

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29 replies
buddhaaaaa August 24 2014 at 12:19 PM

Woke us up at 3:23 am, the house shook hard so we knew it was a big one. Not "THEE BIG ONE" but big enough to know there was going to be some serious damage. Hang in there my fellow NorCal neighbors. We still live in paradise !!!

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5 replies
plewdawg August 24 2014 at 12:08 PM

I wonder if Pelosi was at the epicenter.

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15 replies
bjsmith909 August 24 2014 at 12:11 PM

Doesn't matter where you live, natural disasters can strike. I guess it's all what you get use to. I have to say however, we have way fewer big earthquakes than Florida has hurricanes, or the Midwest has tornadoes or the East Coast has crippling snowstorms. Bottom line you can run but you can't hide.

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6 replies
ganderrrr August 24 2014 at 1:38 PM

Reminder to the pitiful, powerless, helpless, whiny conservatives wishing ill on California -- One out of every seven Americans is a Californian.

If California suddenly disappeared, your food prices would quadruple immediately, as would your federal taxes. Reminder -- California is a net federal revenue giver state -- paying roughly $1400 per person per year in federal taxes than we get back in goods and services. You fly-overstate nitwits would have to make up the difference if we stopped paying.

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13 replies
tomkota August 24 2014 at 11:53 AM

it must suck knowing the big one is comming and you dont know when...good luck guys.. ill stick with our hurricanes at least we know when ther comming

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14 replies
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