Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency after a 6.0-magnitude quake jolted the Bay Area early Sunday morning, igniting fires, damaging buildings, injuring dozens, knocking out power to tens of thousands and sending residents running out of their homes in the darkness.
The quake struck southwest of Napa at 3:20 a.m., causing houses to shake in the center of San Francisco and knocking out power to more than 50,000 houses, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS briefly upgraded the magnitude to 6.1 before downgrading it. The earthquake is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the USGS said.
The intersection of Third and Brown streets in downtown Napa showed signs of damage, including fallen trees, broken awnings and the facade of a building falling on top of a parked car
“I was in bed … It was a sick feeling. The ground was just rolling,” lawyer Jeff Hammond told NBC Bay Area, who has lived in Napa since 1990.
“That used to be my office,” Hammond said pointing at the city’s old courthouse that was built in the 1870s and lost a big chunk during the earthquake.”The building is not earthquake-proff, so who knows what the damage is inside. This is obviously the worst we’ve ever seen here. Napa is going to survive this but it’s hard to see though.”
Napa Fire Capt. Doug Bridewell called the earthquake “the worst shaking I’ve ever been in.”
Eighteen-year-old Christian Ray described how the earthquake jolted him and his mother out of sleep.
“I just heard shaking, and I got really scared,” he said. “I heard my mom screaming for my name, and I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ I thought something terrible was going on.
“My dresser fell on me and cut up my legs, and then I saw my mom come into my room. She fell, tripped over all my stuff,” he said. “Our room is just terrible. It’s destroyed, and everything is on the floor, flipped over. It’s pretty amazing.”
David Duncan, president and CEO of Silver Oak winery in Napa, tweeted about waking up to hundreds of bottles destroyed in the quake. The popular Napa Wine Train canceled its operations for Sunday in order to inspect their trains.
Justin-Siena School in Napa announced it will be closed Monday for safety reasons.
The California Highway Patrol reported earthquake-related damage in four places this morning, including parts of Highway 121 and Petrified Forest Road at Saxton Road in Calistoga. However, all roads remain open to the public at this time.
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.
Survaillance video showed shelves rocking inside a 7-11 and a Pet Food Express.
Napa Fire Department Operations Chief John Callahan said that the city has exhausted its own resources extinguishing six fires, transporting injured residents, searching homes for anyone who might be trapped and answering calls about gas leaks, water main breaks and downed power lines.
There were at least 50 aftershocks, including four that were larger than 2.0 magnitude in Napa, ranging in magnitude from 2.5 to 3.6, according to the USGS. Another 30 to 70 small aftershocks could hit the area in the next week.
At least 120 people were treated for injuries, and six of them are in critical condition at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, including a child who was struck by part of a fireplace and airlifted to UC Davis for neurological evaluation. Some of the critical patients are being treated for fractures and heart attacks.
“Our community has responded in an extraordinary fashion here in Napa,” said Queen of the Valley CEO Walt Mickens.
The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and caused damage inside homes in neighboring Sonoma County.
“We were just sleeping and all of a sudden there was enormous amount of noise and our bed started bouncing from side to side,” said Dandridge Marsh, 37, who works in the wine retail business and lives in Napa with his wife. “You can hear things falling down.”
Marsh said the power went out right away, and he started walking toward his garage to get a flashlight. Broken glass was everywhere.
“It was pretty wild coming out and seeing all the cabinets, the piano and the refrigerator moved a foot over,” he said. “The car was parked in the middle of the garage and is now resting against the garage door.”
USGS said the quake struck about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon, which is located about 6 miles southwest of Napa. Most reported damage has been confined to Napa and Sonoma areas. About 30 to 70 small aftershocks are expected over the next seven days, the USGS said on Twitter.
“I was at work when it happened,” said David Lew, who works at a casino in American Canyon. “My absolute first thought was getting in touch with my wife, who is five months pregnant.”
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said most of the damage was visible through cracks in roads, especially on Highway 121 and 209.
NBC Bay Area’s chopper footage over downtown Napa showed a mobile home park on fire at Orchard Avenue and a gaping hole near the top corner of the old courthouse. At least four mobile homes have been destroyed, and 50 gas line breaks have been reported, according to Napa County Emergency Services.
Water treatment plants are operational and unharmed, though 30 water main breaks have been reported.
California Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday morning that his emergency services offices was on full activation and working closely with emergency managers, first responders and transportation officials to help residents and vital infrastructure.
“These safety officials are doing all they can to help residents and those living in affected areas should follow their guidance and instruction,” he said.
People took to social media to share news of the quake. NBC Bay Area Chief Meteorologist Jeff Ranieri reported feeling a “violent shaking or rolling motion” for around 20 seconds. Some reported items being tossed around inside their house.
“It’s certainly a jolt and reminds people we live in a place where large earthquakes occur,” said David Schwartz of the USGS. “We will be looking for the rest of tonight and tomorrow. Our seismologists are taking a closer look. People can expect smaller aftershocks to continue.”
Schwartz said the earthquake was felt all the way to Sacramento and south to Salinas.
There was no report of damage to the Bay Bridge or any other major bridge in the Bay Area.
“The most important thing for people to remember is drop, cover and hold if we do happen to get another big one,” Ranieri said. “If you smell gas it probably means there is a gas leak.”
Napa High School at 2475 Jefferson Street and Grace Church at 3765 Solano Avenue in Napa have been established as evacuation centers, according to Napa police.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.
— Rob Mayeda (@RobMayeda) August 24, 2014
— Rob Mayeda (@RobMayeda) August 24, 2014
— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) August 24, 2014
#CHP officers so far reporting no damage to roadways in South Bay, Peninsula, East Bay. Officers still checking for obvious roadway damage
— CHP Golden Gate (@CHP_GoldenGate) August 24, 2014
— AnaBanana (@anabanana0924) August 24, 2014
MY CHIMNEY FELL DOWN pic.twitter.com/3Vi9QxT9y1
— Harry Matthiasson (@HMatthiasson) August 24, 2014
— David Duncan (@DavidSilverOak) August 24, 2014
Cathy Rainone and the Associated Press contributed reporting.