‘A wake-up call’ for Northern California
NAPA, Calif. — It was the first major test of the Bay Area’s preparedness for a major disaster in nearly 25 years — a magnitude-6.0 earthquake that ripped through the North Bay early Sunday, injuring more than 100 people, damaging scores of homes and buildings in Napa and Vallejo and knocking out power to thousands.
Some crucial systems worked. Napa County’s main trauma hospital quickly set up a triage operation for people injured by chimneys, glass and other debris that showered onto homes and streets in downtown Napa when the quake hit at 3:20 a.m. Firefighters improvised a work-around to knock down a blaze at a Napa mobile home park after a broken water main cut off supplies, but not before six residences were consumed by flames.
But many other problems were exposed to wide public view for the first time since the Loma Prieta earthquake killed 62 people in October 1989.
Several buildings that were damaged in Napa and Vallejo had unreinforced masonry, and many homes’ unsecured chimneys collapsed. The quake — moderate by the standards of what the Bay Area could face — knocked out power to tens of thousands of people, some for most of the day, and snapped dozens of water mains, leaving faucets dry throughout much of Napa.
“It most definitely is a wake-up call ... to realize what the danger of this is, and what the risks are,” said Emir Macari, a member of the state Seismic Safety Commission and a professor of seismic safety at California State University Sacramento.
— San Francisco Chronicle
NAPA, Calif. — A 6.0-magnitude earthquake shook this Northern California city early Sunday morning, sending dozens to the hospital, including at least three with major injuries, and causing major damage in wine country, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.
The quake, which hit around 3:20 a.m., was the largest to strike the area since 1989’s Loma Prieta quake. It left thousands without power as Napa officials sought to secure damaged buildings and repair water-line breaks and as business owners cleaned up.
Four mobile homes burned to the ground, a result of a gas-line break.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Napa earthquake originated within a 44-mile-wide set of major faults of the San Andreas system.
Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where an outdoor triage tent was set up to handle the influx, reported treating 172 people in the emergency room, although hospital officials could not say how many of them were there for bruises and cuts suffered in the quake and how many for more routine injuries and illnesses.
Twelve people were admitted for broken bones, heart attacks and other problems directly related to the earthquake, including an adult who remained in critical condition on Sunday night and a 13-year-old boy.
The teen was hit by flying debris from a collapsed fireplace and had to be airlifted to the children’s hospital at the University of California Davis hospital for a neurological evaluation.
Residents braced for possible aftershocks during the next 24 hours, which could further compromise buildings and cause more damage, particularly to wineries, which are key to the region’s economy.
A single wine glass survived at the Ceja Vineyards tasting room in Napa. The rest were shattered in piles that Ariel Ceja spent the day sweeping up.
“This? This is just stuff. The real question will be at the warehouse,” said Ceja, the son of vintners who have been growing grapes and making wine in the Napa Valley since 1983.
Like many vintners’ warehouses, theirs is closer to the epicenter of the powerful quake, where state highway workers quickly patched a huge crack in the road.
Vintner Richard Ward of Saintsbury Winery south of Napa watched Sunday afternoon as workers righted toppled barrels and rescued a 500-pound grape de-stemmer that the quake had thrown to the ground.
“That’s what happens when you’re a mile from the epicenter,” said Ward, who lost 300 to 400 bottles in the winery’s basement.
The grape harvest was supposed to start overnight Monday, but it would now be pushed off a few days, he said. Had the harvest started a day earlier, the quake would have caught the workers among the heavy barrels when it struck, Ward said.
Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, told an afternoon news conference some 90 to 100 homes and buildings were deemed not habitable.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.