Pedestrians walk by the damaged Napa post office following
the earthquake. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A 6.0 magnitude has earthquake rocked wine country north
of San Francisco, injuring dozens of people, damaging historic
buildings, setting some homes on fire and causing power outages
around the picturesque town of Napa.
The biggest quake in the region in 25 years jolted many
residents out of bed when it hit at 3:20am (local time),
centred 10km south of the City of Napa.
Three people were seriously injured, including a child who
suffered multiple fractures after a fireplace fell on him,
local fire battalion chief John Callahan said. Six fires
broke out, including one that consumed six mobile homes, he
Queen of the Valley hospital said it had treated 89 patients.
There were no reports of any fatalities but the quake shook
up residents, said Barry Martin, community outreach
coordinator for the City of Napa, which has a population of
"This was a pretty big jolt in Napa, but it certainly is not
The Big One," Martin added in comments to local television,
referring to fears Californians have of a catastrophic quake.
California, which sits along a series of seismic faults, is
forecast to experience a much more powerful earthquake at
some point, but scientists do not know exactly when it will
come or how strong it will be, USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman
"Usually when people talk about 'The Big One,' they're
talking about something on the order of a magnitude 9, which
of course is tremendously more powerful" than Sunday's quake,
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of
emergency, putting all state resources at the disposal of his
Office of Emergency Services.
Most damage appeared centered around Napa, a famous
wine-producing region and a major tourist destination in
One hard-hit building housing winery tasting rooms had to be
closed to tourists, and the floors of many wine stores were
stained red from the contents of broken wine bottles.
Tyler Paradise, general manager of Cult 24 wine bar in Napa,
estimated his business lost $50,000 worth of bottles. They
were shaken out of their holding cabinets and littered the
'TOO TERRIFIED TO EVEN SCREAM'
Brick facades gave way in the historic section of downtown
Napa, and bricks fell off a second floor corner of the
courthouse, which showed cracks. On the main street, masonry
collapsed onto a car.
Callahan said officials had responded to more than 100 calls
regarding problems with gas lines and power lines, and on its
website the city reported 30 water line breaks and many
broken windows and buildings with interior damage.
The quake knocked out power to about 40,000 homes and
businesses in Napa and neighboring cities of Sonoma, St.
Helena and Santa Rosa, according to the website for Pacific
Gas & Electric.
"They say it went for 50 seconds. It felt like 50 minutes. I
was just too terrified to even scream," said antique store
owner Patricia Trimble, 50. She rushed to her store in
central Napa and found the front window blown out, cabinets
on their sides and merchandise littering the floor.
As dawn broke, merchants were on the streets sweeping up
debris and boarding up windows.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicenter of the
quake was 5 miles (8 km) northwest of the town of American
Canyon, on the northern edge of the San Francisco Bay.
'WOKE US ALL UP'
The quake was the largest to hit the Bay Area since the Loma
Prieta quake in 1989, which killed 63 people and caused $6
billion in property damage. That quake measured 6.9, while
the famous one that leveled San Francisco in 1906 measured
Sunday's quake was strong enough to be felt throughout the
"It was long. I think it was the biggest one since I felt the
1989 quake," said Stephanie Martin, 47, a nursing assistant
in Oakland, south of the area where the quake was felt more
"Nothing tipped over, thank God. Rolling back and forth. Just
woke us all up," she said.
Aaron Moreno, 18, rushed to Lola's Market, the Mexican
grocery store where he works in Napa, right after the
earthquake to prevent potential looting and to begin cleaning
up the mess. He said there were broken wine bottles and glass
everywhere and the store would probably be closed for two
The quake was followed by small aftershocks of about
magnitude 2, USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin said.
USGS's Blakeman said there was about a 50 percent chance
there would be an aftershock of at least magnitude 5 within
the next week.
"That's the thing people need to worry about if their house
is already damaged, because magnitude 5 can cause more
problems," he said.
President Barack Obama, who is on his last day of vacation at
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, was briefed about the quake
and would continue to receive updates, the White House said.