Purchase photos

Strong quake leaves parts of California in dark

8/25/2014

By McClatchy-Tribune

By McClatchy-Tribune

Power has been restored to nearly all of the approximately 70,000 customers in Napa County whose lights went out after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck early Sunday, utility officials said today.

The approximately 150 customers who remained without power were expected to have their service restored later this morning, according to Pacific Gas & Electric officials.

The quake -- centered about 9 miles south of the city of Napa -- struck at 3:20 a.m. and damaged buildings, cut off power to tens of thousands, sparked fires, broke water mains, caused gas leaks, sent more than 120 people to a hospital and led Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

As of early today, there were 20 earthquake-related gas-distribution outages, PG&E said. The utility said crews also were in the process of responding to "several hundred" gas-odor calls.

Officials said 100 homes in the area have been red-tagged -- that is, labeled unfit to enter -- as a result of the quake, and a severed gas line was being blamed for a fire that destroyed six mobile homes.

Thirty-three buildings in the city of Napa proper were red-tagged as of 5 p.m. Sunday, and numerous others were yellow-tagged, which means people were being granted only limited access.

Of Napa's 60 water-main breaks, 20 had been isolated as of midday Sunday, but it "may take a full week to get everything restored," Jack LaRochelle, director of public works, told reporters.

The earthquake was the largest to strike the Bay Area since the 6.9 Loma Prieta temblor of 1989, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and it lasted 10 to 20 seconds, depending on location.

Napa bore the brunt of the quake's destruction, as did the downtown area of nearby Vallejo.

Jennifer Patefield, 47, who runs the Mariposa Ice Creamery store in Napa, said she was "jolted" awake and counted to 40 before the motion from the quake stopped. Her refrigerator emptied its contents, and the china cabinet was "gone," Patefield said.

"I surf, and it was like riding a big wave," Patefield said as she assessed the damage to her home.

Tourists were out in force, some of them startled.

"We just have snowstorms where we come from," said Cheryllyn Tallman, 56, New Hartford, N.Y.

She and her husband were in the area for the scheduled GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma race. She said her husband was sound asleep when the quake hit.

"For a man who never uses inappropriate language, I heard some colorful words come out," said Tallman, who added she took a tip from what she'd seen on TV and headed for a doorway when the shaking began.