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Power disrupted but no injuries reported in Eureka quake

The earthquake near Eureka, Calif., this afternoon -- a reported magnitude 6.5 -- snapped power lines, toppled televisions and shook up local stores, but so far no injuries have been reported.

The quake struck at 4:27 p.m. and was centered under the Pacific Ocean, about 25 miles southwest of Eureka. A tsunami was not expected, according to the National Weather Service.

About 25,000 customers were without power, according to Jeff Smith, spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. "We've got some downed power lines as well as some other damage to other equipment," he said. "We're still in the process of assessing the situation and making sure we take the necessary safety precautions both for our employees as well as for our customers."

The California Highway Patrol in Eureka said major roads were open and there was no reported damage to bridges and highways. Firefighters in the area were responding to numerous calls of gas leaks and downed power lines.

"Right now it's very preliminary but there does not seem to be any damage that is overly significant." said CHP Capt. Dale Cannon. "We've got some minor glass breakage, some gas mains affected and some power lines down."

The California Emergency Management Agency said there has been no call from the Eureka area for emergency assistance  because only minimal damage has been reported.

"We've had some reports of minor damage, cosmetic damage, windows broken," said  Kelly Huston, assistant secretary of the agency. "But so far, it's all very minor, and no damage as far as we can tell to roadways and thoroughfares."

Saturday's temblor felt like “a monstrous one,” said Phil Burns, owner of Mity Nice Bakery Cafe Restaurant in Eureka, which suffered no major damage. “I’ve been through a lot of these and usually they’re sharp but this one was very wiggly; it was rolling in all directions.” 

Burns said it took his mother half an hour to be evacuated from the Bayshore Mall. 

William Bowman, 60, was at home in the south Eureka fishing village of King Salmon — about 10 miles from the epicenter — when the quake hit, shattering heirloom dishware and toppling a television.

“I hit the floor,” he said. “It was a long one. I thought the house was coming down.”

The shaking lasted about 10 seconds, snapping power lines and knocking out power throughout the isolated seaside community of about 750. When it stopped, people gathered in the street. Some were visibly panic-stricken. Others yelled, "You all right?" in the direction of neighbor’s homes.

The next sounds Bowman heard was that of engines revving as people began to stream out of the village on its only access road, racing toward what he described as “the closest higher ground, 150-foot high Bell Hill.”

Bowman and his wife, however, drove to their restaurant in the nearby community of Cutten. “We lost a few nice bottles of wine,” he said.

A newly installed tsunami warning system was not activated.

Some neighborhoods appeared to be calm. Eureka Mayor Virginia Bass said of her neighborhood, "I don't see smoke. I don't hear sirens all over the place. My phones are working and the power is on." 

Sandra Hall, owner of Antiques and Goodies in Eureka, said the quake moved her shop in all directions.

Her store was littered with broken lamps, dishes and wardrobe items. She said there were at least four people in her store when the quake struck.  A couple managed to run out of the store’s main entrance, while two women took shelter under a table.   

“We’ve been through a lot of earthquakes but I can’t recall there ever being any this bad,” Hall said.

Richard Allen, a UC Berkeley seismologist, said the area where the earthquake occurred was in the Mendocino Triple Junction, where three tectonic plates collide, one of the most seismically active regions of the San Andreas transform system. 

Several aftershocks have been recorded.

The last major earthquake in the area was a magnitude 7.2 tremor on April 25, 1992 that caused some injuries, said Huston, of the state Emergency Management Agency. That quake occurred in roughly the same area offshore and triggered a small tsunami, followed by two strong aftershocks.

Did you feel it?  Report your experience to the U.S. Geological Survey.

-- Ruben Vives, Louis Sahagun, Patrick McDonnell, Cara Mia Dimassa and Rong-Gong Lin II

 
Comments () | Archives (6)

i like it

Aw shucks. Too bad a few billions of debt didn't cleave into the Pacific.

Thats real close to land.

Very, very lucky quake was offshore...it could have been another 'Northridge'

very, very lucky this quake was offshore. would not want to experience another 'Northridge'...

Aw...I feel so bad for the people who died during this Earthquake.


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