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NAPA, Calif. – Residents in California’s northern Bay Area were sent running out of their homes in the early hours Sunday when a 6.0 magnitude-earthquake rolled through, damaging some buildings and knocking out power to thousands.
The large earthquake stuck just before 3:30 a.m. about 10 miles northwest of American Canyon, which is about 6 miles southwest of California’s Napa wine country, Leslie Gordon of the U.S. Geological Survey said. It’s the largest earthquake to shake the Bay area since in the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989.
The quake caused six significant fires, including at four mobile homes, Napa Division Fire Chief Darren Drake said. The damage from the fires is not yet clear but it appears significant, he said. Several other smaller fires have been reported and firefighting efforts have been complicated by broken water mains.
"There's collapses, fires," said Napa Fire Capt. Doug Bridewell, standing in front of large pieces of masonry that broke loose 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.
The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighboring Sonoma County running out of their houses. Officials say widespread power outages have been reported in the area.
"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. It felt like a side-to-side kind of rolling sensation. Nothing violent but extremely lengthy and extremely active."
The USGS says the depth of the earthquake was just less than seven miles, and numerous small aftershocks have occurred in the Napa wine country.
"A quake of that size in a populated area is of course widely felt throughout that region," said Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado. "The 6.0 is a sizeable quake for this area. It's a shallow quake. It's about 6 miles deep. We received hundreds of reports on our website from people that felt it in the surrounding area."
A member of Napa County dispatch tells the AP that there has been one report of structural damage, but additional details weren't immediately available.
Numerous emergency vehicles were on the roads in Napa and Sonoma counties.
California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Hill told KTVU-TV that road damage appears confined to the Napa and Sonoma areas. He said there appears to be no damage to major bridges in the Bay Area.
"They are in pretty good shape," he said, noting that a couple of the roadways in the Napa-Sonoma area have some bumps and cracks.
In Napa, a water main break left at least one street flooded, and power outages left streetlights dark.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.