6.1 magnitude quake hits California, biggest in 25 years

6.1 magnitude quake hits California, biggest in 25 years
Dozens of people were injured, two seriously, when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Napa in the wine-producing region of northern California, the city government has said. The quake is reported to be the biggest in 25 years. 

Four mobile homes were destroyed and two were still on fire in the northern part of the city, a statement said.

The city government said there were 50 gas main breaks, 30 water main leaks and damage to historic buildings as well as to commercial properties.

The earthquake hit California’s northern Bay Area around 3.30 am on Sunday, damaging buildings, knocking out power to thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness. There were no reports of any fatalities, Barry Martin, public information officer for Napa, said by telephone. He said he did not have details on the injuries. Napa fire chief John Callanan said hospitals had been busy with moderate injuries.

The earthquake struck about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon, which is about six miles southwest of Napa in California wine country, Leslie Gordon of the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It was the largest earthquake to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the USGS said.

Unreinforced masonry buildings in downtown Napa including the historic courthouse and library suffered major damage, city officials said.

‘There’s collapses, fires,’ said Napa fire captain Doug Bridewell, standing in front of large pieces of masonry 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.

‘Everything was just shaking, the hanging lamps waving back and forth,’ said Omar Lopez, 24, night clerk at a small inn in St. Helena. ‘Guests came into the front desk after the quake and they said the swimming pool looked like a bunch of people had jumped in at the same time.’

The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighbouring Sonoma County running out of their houses. Officials said widespread power outages had been reported. ‘It was a rolling quake, said Oakland resident Rich Lieberman. ‘It started very much like a rolling sensation and just got progressively worse in terms of length. Not so much in terms of shaking, but it did shake.


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