A Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake Shakes Northern California, Killing 2 People And Leaving Thousands Without Power: Before dawn on Tuesday, a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 hit the northern coast of California. It damaged homes and roads, broke utility lines, and left thousands without water and electricity.
According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, at least 12 people were hurt, and two died from “medical emergencies” that happened during or after the quake. The quake hit at 2:30 a.m. PST, followed by about 80 aftershocks. It was centered 215 miles (350 km) north of San Francisco, offshore of Humboldt County, a primarily rural area known for its redwood forests, local seafood, the lumber industry, and dairy farms.
Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency in Humboldt County because of the earthquake. This is to help with the emergency response. A statement says that Newsom has told state agencies and departments to help local communities by taking necessary steps. The area is also known for having a lot of earthquakes, though the most recent one seemed to cause more damage than others in recent years.
Authorities say that Tuesday’s earthquake broke the gas line to a water heater, which caused a fire, and caused at least two other buildings to fall. Fire officials say the fire was put out quickly, and fire crews rescued a resident briefly trapped in the home.
About a dozen houses were damaged so severely that they were “red-tagged” or marked as unsafe to live in. Most of them were in Rio Dell, a town with about 3,400 people that was hit hard by the earthquake.
The town lost water service, and the city manager, Kyle Knopp, said that he thought 100 and 150 people would have to leave once housing inspectors had looked at all the damage. The electric grid tracking website PowerOutage.us says that right after the earthquake, about 79,000 homes and businesses in the county were without power.
“THINGS WERE GOING DOWN”
Jacqui McIntosh, whose Rio Dell home was shaken off its foundation, said that she and her husband Shane were jolted out of bed and huddled under it until the shaking stopped. “Then, as we ran out of the house, gas smelled like it was everywhere,” she said. “We lost our water, so there is water everywhere. I remember going outside and seeing what looked like a house on the ground near our porch.”
Liz Peavy, 68, who also lives in Rio Dell, said that her house started to shake and wake her up. “It kept shaking and shaking, and things were falling,” she said. “The TV, the microwave, and everything else were all falling. It was like all my little trinkets were crashing everywhere.” Fire officials said dispatchers got about 70 calls for help after the earthquake.
Not much was known about the people who died. The two people who died were 72 and 83 years old. They both had medical emergencies that happened at the same time as the earthquake, so rescue teams couldn’t get to them in time to save their lives, said Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal.
Most of the 12 people known to have gone to a hospital could get there on their own and were treated for relatively minor injuries, many of which were caused by falling objects. Officials said that a head wound and a broken hip were two of the most severe injuries.
Police shut down a bridge over the Eel River just outside of Ferndale, a pretty town known for its Victorian storefronts and homes made to look like gingerbread. The bridge had four large cracks. The California Highway Patrol also said that the base of the road could slide. Authorities said that at least four Humboldt County roads had to be closed because of damage from the earthquake.
Daniel Holsapple, 33, from nearby Arcata, said, “The shaking was extreme.” He said he grabbed his pet cat and ran outside after being jolted awake in the dark by the movement of his house and an emergency alert on his phone. “No one could tell what was going on. It was just the feeling and the low rumbling sound of the whole house’s foundation shifting, “he said.
Mark Ghilarducci, the state’s emergency chief, said that electronic alerts were sent to the mobile devices of about 3 million people in northern California 10 seconds before the first shaking was felt. California has a lot of earthquakes, but ones with a magnitude of 6.4 are less common and could be dangerous.
The quake on Tuesday happened about 2 miles offshore, where several tectonic plates meet on the sea floor. According to Cynthia Pridmore, a senior geologist with the California Geological Survey, this seismically active area has had about 40 earthquakes between 6.0 and 7.0 in the last 100 years.
“It’s not unusual for this area to have quakes this big,” she said at a news conference. The U.S. Geological Survey said that the quake on Tuesday could be felt as far away as the San Francisco Bay area. The magnitude of the most significant aftershock was 4.6.
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