Northern California earthquake is the strongest in 25 years

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(CNN) — The strongest earthquake in 25 years struck Northern California early Sunday, injuring more than 100 people, damaging historic buildings in downtown Napa and turning fireplaces into rubble.

The 6.0-magnitude quake struck just six miles southwest of Napa, California’s famed wine country.

All but six of the injured were treated and released from the emergency room at Queen of the Valley Hospital, said its president, Walt Mickens. They mostly suffered bruises and lacerations, he said.

Six patients sustained critical injures, including a young child, Mickens said.

The child was hurt when a fireplace collapsed and has been airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Vanessa deGier told CNN.

Only one patient is still in critical condition, said Walt Mickens, the president and CEO of Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

Mickens said that 172 people have been seen by the hospital’s emergency room, though he could not confirm that all of those seeking treatment had injuries resulting from the earthquake.

“Everything and everyone in Napa was affected by the quake. My house, along with everybody else’s, is a disaster. It looks like somebody broke in and ravaged the place, room by room.” said CNN iReporter Malissa Koven, who was awakened by the shaking at about 3:20 a.m.

“Anything and everything that could fall, did,” she said.

The damage in Napa is “fairly significant,” said Glenn Pomeroy, the CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, who surveyed the area Sunday afternoon.

“The downtown area is hardest hit, probably because of the age of construction down there,” Pomeroy said. In the residential areas, he is “seeing a lot of chimneys that’ve come crashing down.”

In historic downtown Napa, the bricks and beams that once made up buildings’ facades lay splayed in the street. Shattered glassware covered the floor of a local restaurant. One home had visible charring from a fire that occurred in the aftermath of the quake.

“The post office building had cracked, the local hardware store was destroyed with layers of shelves that had fallen over and busted the windows, multiple buildings had fallen apart, and all the local businesses looked trashed on the inside and out,” Koven said.

However, the damage “is not as bad as it could have been,” Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Office of Emergency Services, said at a news conference Sunday. Ninety to 100 homes are not safe to enter, according to Ghilarducci.

To help with the recovery Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.

“We’re here for the long run,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told CNN. “Not just when we’re putting out fires — literally.”

The earthquake triggered six major fires that completely destroyed several mobile homes, said Napa Division Fire Chief John Callanan. The city has set up a shelter for those who need a place to stay.

People phoned in more than 100 reports of gas leaks and downed power lines, according to Napa city officials.

Some historic buildings in downtown Napa showed extensive damage and at least 15,000 customers in and around Sonoma, Napa and Santa Rosa lost power, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

City officials counted at least 60 minor water main breaks and leaks, and 20 of those lines have been shut off, according to Napa public works director Jack Rochelle.

“None of our larger transmission mains appear to have been damaged. That is really good news,” Rochelle said.

He said it might take up to a week to get the water system back to normal. The water that is still flowing is safe to drink, he said.

School has been canceled in Napa on Monday to give officials time to clean up and review their school buildings to make sure they are safe, said Napa Valley Unified Schools Superintendent Patrick Sweeney.

How did it feel?

Sunday’s earthquake struck four miles northwest of American Canyon, six miles southwest of Napa and nine miles southeast of Sonoma, according to the USGS.

The USGS estimated that based on their locations, 15,000 people experienced severe shaking, 106,000 people felt very strong shaking, 176,000 felt strong shaking and 738,000 felt moderate shaking.

For those in Napa, close to the epicenter, the quake jolted downtown residents such as Karen Lynch.

“It was not like other quakes we have felt,” Lynch told CNN. “This was a violent quake.”

Although the quake has not resulted in any casualties so far, many residents were surprised by how strong it was.

“Honestly it felt much worse than the ’89 earthquake,” CNN iReporter Garret Gauer said. “The refrigerator relocated itself to the other side of the kitchen”

Farther south of the epicenter in San Francisco, CNN producer Augie Martin felt the quake differently.

“It was a fairly good shake, about 25 or 30 seconds. It was a softer rolling type earthquake ” he said.

The quake struck about 7 miles deep and was considered “strong” by the USGS. Major quakes start at a 7.0 magnitude, according to the USGS scale.

The economic loss caused by the quake is likely to be more than a billion dollars, according to USGS pager data.

Wine country hit

“I’ve got a lot of broken wine, being here in Napa,” said Emily Massimi, who was woken up by the quake. “We tend to collect wine, so I have wine all over my kitchen, and glass, and pictures off the wall and books off of bookshelves,” she told CNN.

At Silver Oak Winery, owner David Duncan spent the morning cleaning up hundreds of broken wine bottles that fell off the shelves.

“Those bottles were very unique,” he said. They were part of his private collection and worth hundreds of dollars. Duncan said he plans to open the winery today.

But it’s not just the wine economy that will feel the pain.

“There’s a mythology about Napa, that it’s all fancy wineries,” Newsom said. “But underneath that there are a lot of folks here — very low income — that are going to need support.”

There have been over 60 aftershocks, according to the USGS, ranging from 0.6 to 3.6 magnitude.

25 years later

The quake was the strongest to hit the Bay Area since 1989, when a 6.9-magnitude one struck during the World Series. The Loma Prieta earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries and an estimated $6 billion in property damage, according to the USGS.

The damage from Sunday’s earthquake was relatively minor compared with the buckled highways and destroyed homes that scattered the Bay area in the aftermath of the quake 25 years ago.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake in Southern California was nearly as deadly — 60 people were killed and more than 7,000 were injured. The USGS says 20,000 people were left homeless in its aftermath.

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