Highway damaged, 50K without power as quake rocks SF Bay area

Jose Castro – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Napa, CA, United States (4E) – According to the United States Geological Survey, an earthquake had hit the San Francisco Bay area early morning Sunday. The preliminary measure of the quake’s intensity was at 6.0 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was said to be 4 miles northwest of American Canyon, CA, near Napa county 3:20 am PST.

The quake’s effects were felt in San Francisco, with the strongest tremors felt in the Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. Initial reports said that power to 50,000 people was down Sunday. Other news sources said that minor damage was seen on the westbound lane of Highway 37.

The California Highway Patrol in the San Francisco Bay Area had issued an announcement via Twitter saying, “(Officers were) checking over crossings and bridges for obvious signs of structural integrity.” It also asked residents to report such issues to authorities.

According to Napa Division Fire Chief John Callanan, there have been two major injuries that have been reported. Moderate injuries have been reported as many individuals trickle into hospitals. In an impromptu press conference, Napa Fire Capt Doug Bridewell said, “There’s collapses, fires. That’s the worst shaking I’ve ever been in.”

Leslie Gordon of the US Geological Survey confirmed that it is the second strongest earthquake to hit the quake prone area since 1989, where a 6.9 Richter scale tremblor hit Loma Prieta. The USGS also declared the depth of the quake as less than seven miles. It is observing the aftershocks occurring in the Napa wine country area.

USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin further said, “A quake of that size in a populated area is of course widely felt throughout the region. The 6.0 is a sizeable 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 in the surrounding area.”

The ground shaking set off car alarms and caused many residents of Sonoma County running to the road in the middle of the night. One resident of Oakland told reporters, “It started very much like a rolling sensation and just got progressively worse in terms of length.”

Rich Lieberman added, “Not so much in terms of shaking, but it did shake. It felt like a side-to-side kind of rolling sensation. Nothing violent but extremely lengthy and extremely active.”

There was a 2.6 magnitude aftershock quake that hit the area 30 minutes after the first quake hit. The USGS has not yet identified the fault that had triggered the quake. The main suspect is the Browns Valley section of the West Napa Fault. It also warned residents of succeeding aftershocks over the coming week, some of them between 3 and 5 on the Richter scale.

Most of the injured were treated at the Queen of the Vallley Hospital in Napa. About 70 residents suffered from cuts and bruises, with some getting deep lacerations requiring stitches. In nearby Vallejo, the shaking occurred for 20 seconds, moving appliances and other heavy furniture. No injuries were reported in the area.

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