Earth Quakes

25 years later, could the San Francisco Bay Area take another massive earthquake?

  • FILE - In this Oct. 17, 1989 file photo, a California Highway Patrol officer checks the damage to cars that fell when the upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower deck after the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/George Nikitin, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 17, 1989 file photo, a California Highway Patrol officer checks the damage to cars that fell when the upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower deck after the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/George Nikitin, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE : In this file photo taken Oct. 18, 1989, crews demolish a collapsed apartment building in the Marina district following the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

    FILE : In this file photo taken Oct. 18, 1989, crews demolish a collapsed apartment building in the Marina district following the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 19, 1989 file photo, workers check the damage to Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., after it collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake two days earlier.  Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

    FILE - In this Oct. 19, 1989 file photo, workers check the damage to Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., after it collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake two days earlier. Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, injured almost 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion damage. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)  (The Associated Press)

It's been 25 years since a massive quake rocked the Bay Area just before a World Series game, killing dozens, injuring thousands and causing billions of dollars' worth of damage as it buckled freeways, brought down a bridge and knocked buildings off their foundations.

It was the strongest quake to hit the region in generations.

The shaking lasted about 15 seconds, but its effects can still be seen transforming the region. Here's a look back at the Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake:

Q: What happened?

A: Sixty-three people were killed and more than 3,000 were injured when the 6.9 magnitude quake hit just before the San Francisco Giants played the Oakland A's.

Most of quake deaths occurred when a busy two-tier freeway in Oakland collapsed. The quake also brought down a top section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Buildings came down in San Francisco's Marina District and in downtown Santa Cruz, about 80 miles to the south.

Q: Was anything rebuilt?

A: A renewed focus on seismic safety brought dramatic changes: A quake-damaged freeway was demolished. A waterfront area near Fisherman's Wharf was revitalized. And the Golden Gate Bridge — which wasn't damaged — has been the subject of safety upgrades that continue to this day.

The biggest project, however, was construction of a new span for the Bay Bridge. The $6.4 billion undertaking, the most expensive public works project in state history, erected a suspension bridge designed to withstand the strongest earthquake expected over the next 1,500 years. It opened to traffic last year.

Q: Could the Bay Area see another Loma Prieta?

A: Yes. Scientists say four fault segments running beneath Northern California have accumulated enough tension to produce quakes of magnitude 6.8 or greater. The Napa region experienced a magnitude-6.0 quake in August that left one person dead and scores injured. Napa County has estimated damage at more than $400 million, much of it to the area's famed wineries.

Q: Is the region ready?

A: There have been about $30 billion worth of upgrades made to roads and water and telecommunications systems. The next step is to make sure people can stay in their neighborhoods by strengthening buildings and houses. San Francisco has begun tagging apartment buildings and hotels that need new seismic safety evaluations.

"We honestly are in much better shape," said Chris Poland, an earthquake safety expert, "in being able to restore our lifelines to get going again after a quake."