By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
NAPA, Calif. (AP) -- A powerful earthquake
that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people
sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down
around them. Scores were injured as the temblor knocked out power to
thousands, caused gas and water lines to rupture and sparked fires.
The magnitude 6.0-quake struck at 3:20 a.m. PDT Sunday near the city
of Napa, an oasis of Victorian-era buildings nestled in the
vineyard-studded hills of Northern California.
The fires also flared in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two others were damaged, officials said.
By midday Sunday, the fires were out and power was starting to be
restored, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's
Office of Emergency Services.
"While it was bad, it wasn't as bad as it could be and it was very manageable from a regional perspective," Ghilarducci said.
The quake struck about six miles south of Napa and lasted 10 to 20
seconds depending on proximity to the epicenter, according to the U.S.
Geological Survey. It was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay
Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989,
collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60
people, most when an Oakland freeway fell.
It was felt widely throughout the region, with people reporting
feeling it more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the
For many, the quake struck at the worst time possible, rousing them
in the middle of the night and sending them fumbling in darkness to take
cover and find loved ones. A number of the injuries were caused by
people stepping on broken glass, falling down or being hit by furniture.
The quake's timing was also bad for Napa Valley's famed vineyards,
where winemakers were just getting ready (OTCBB:GTRY) to harvest the
2014 crop. The quake broke thousands of bottles of wine and toppled
Omar Rodriguez, 23, of Napa, was treated for a gash on his forehead
in one of the triage tents outside a hospital that handled the victims.
"We woke up to the earthquake and I
thought I was dreaming because I fell off my bed, you know, it was all
dark, and I just got back up. She noticed it was all bleeding," he said,
referring to his girlfriend.
Officials were still assessing the damage late Sunday in hopes of
getting a cost estimate they could submit for possible federal
assistance. But the initial assessment found that dozens of homes and
buildings in the region were unsafe to occupy, including an historic
Napa County courthouse, where a 10-foot wide hole opened a view of the
Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa reported treating 172
people in the emergency room, although hospital officials could not say
how many of them were there for injuries suffered in the quake and how
many for more routine injuries and illnesses, hospital CEO Walt Mickens
Twelve people were admitted for broken bones and other medical 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 Medical Center for a neurological evaluation. He
condition was listed as serious, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown
While inspecting the shattered glass at her husband's storefront
office in downtown Napa, Chris Malloy described calling for her two
children in the dark as the quake rumbled under the family's home,
tossing heavy pieces of furniture for several feet.
"It was shaking and I was crawling on my hands and knees in the dark,
looking for them," the 45-year-old woman said, wearing flip flops on
feet left bloodied from crawling through broken glass.
About 70,000 customers lost power after the quake hit, but Pacific
Gas and Electric spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said early Monday that the
number was down to about 150 by 4 a.m.
An earthquake early warning system
currently being tested issued a 10-second warning before the quake
struck, said Richard Allen, director of the University of California,
Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. California is working to implement a
statewide system, though Allen said funding has not been secured.
The timing of the quake was bad for business in Napa as well.
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 could have caught the workers among the heavy
barrels when it struck, Ward said.
Aftershocks were expected to continue for several weeks, though State
Geologist John Parrish said they would decrease in magnitude and it was
unlikely that there would be a large follow-up earthquake.
Still, he warned people to be careful because buildings that were
damaged by the quake were now more susceptible to collapse from
On Sunday night in Southern California, a small, magnitude-3.3 earthquake hit off the region's coast.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the temblor struck at 7:50 p.m. and
was centered about 5 miles southwest of San Pedro and 6 miles southeast
of Rancho Palos Verdes. There were no initial reports of damages, police
Associated Press writers Juliet Williams in Napa, Lisa Leff in San
Francisco, Courtney Bonnell in Phoenix and Daisy Nguyen in Los Angeles
contributed to this report.