6.9 quake: 'We dodged a bullet,' Northern California official says

After a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Northern California, Humboldt County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Knight said Monday the region "dodged a bullet."

"We had some alarms go off and other than that we dodged a bullet," Knight said. "This easily could have been a catastrophe that could have caused a lot of damage," he told the Times-Standard.


The earthquake is the largest to hit the West Coast since the magnitude 7.2 Baja California quake in 2010.

The temblor, which struck less than 55 miles from McKinleyville, Fortuna, Eureka and Ferndale, was followed by at least 13 aftershocks as large as magnitude 4.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sgt. Brian Stephens of the Eureka Police Department said as of about 6:15 a.m. Monday that "we have not had one report of damage anywhere in the city."

"Definitely a change from the last one we had," Stephens said, referring to the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that rocked Eureka in January 2010. "This one was the exact same magnitude almost ... This was a roller and the other was more or less a violent shaking."

Stephens said it was his understanding the quake Sunday night, which hit at 10:18 p.m., lasted as long as 38 seconds.

"It was definitely a long one," he said.

Stephens was out on a call when the quake struck and said his "car was rocking back and forth."

"I thought someone was shoving my car back and forth, looked around and nobody was there. Then I realized what was happening."

There were also no immediate reports of damage or injury anywhere else in Humboldt County and no tsunami warnings were immediately issued overnight.

A resident of Ferndale, Raquel Maytorena, 52, felt the earthquake in her nearly 100-year-old home about a mile from the coast.
"It just kept going and going, very slowly and softly. It was not violent," she said. "It almost felt like you were in a boat that was rocking."