SAN FRANCISCO: A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted northern California early yesterday, knocking out power and causing some damage to roads in Napa and Sonoma counties, officials said.
The earthquake seriously injured three people including a child and ignited fires in the scenic Napa valley wine region. The US Geological Service said that the quake was the most powerful to hit the San Francisco Bay area since the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake.
The epicenter was near American Canyon, 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, the US Geological Service said.
There was a “low likelihood for casualties,” it said, but issued an “orange alert” for possible damage, a rating which means “significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.”
An 2.6-magnitude aftershock hit about 30 minutes afterward, it said. USGS expert Jessica Turner told KCBS radio that aftershocks of up to 5.0 are likely in the next week.
The California Highway Patrol closed several off-ramps to highways and at least two roads in Napa Valley because of “significant roadway damage.”
Drivers were cautioned to be careful at an intersection of two state roads in Napa Valley.
“Cracks in road may cause flat tires,” it said on its Twitter account. The highway patrol closed a bridge near Vallejo on Highway 37 while inspecting for possible damage, KCBS reported.
Power was knocked out to nearly 50,000 customers in Napa and Sonoma, which anchor two of California’s most celebrated wine producing regions, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
It said it had sent crews out to assess the damage and restore power, and estimated electricity would be back up within several hours. Residents in the quake zone, including as far away as San Francisco and Davis, just more than 40 miles northeast, quickly took to Twitter. One user Tyson Winter wrote: “Shook violently here in Napa. Power’s out.”
Ann Marie Christy wrote that her mother, also in Napa, said the shaking “was very violent with a lot of broken glass”.
And in San Francisco, Om Malik posted “Damn, woke me up. Was super long.”
Further north, Tim Kerbavaz tweeted: “Felt it in Davis too. Quite long.”