Napa, Calif., earthquake: Last big jolt in area was in 2000

The last time Napa was violently shaken by an earthquake, a 5-year-old boy was left fighting for his life after being buried by hundreds of pounds of brick and mortar from a fireplace.

Sunday's 6.1 earthquake, which shook a large part of the Bay Area at 3:20 a.m., bore at least one striking similarity to that Sept. 3, 2000, temblor: This time a child was also critically hurt by a collapsed fireplace.


By the metrics of earthquakes, the recent quake was 22 times larger than the Napa Valley quake that occurred 14 years ago, which was a magnitude 5.2. But both left dozens of people injured -- close to 90 on Sunday so far, and about 40 in the older quake. The 2000 quake also occurred on a Sunday, and also very early in the morning -- 1:36 a.m.

The 2000 quake left hundreds of buildings in need of repair, damaged power lines and sent people to the hospital, mostly with cuts and bruises and some fractures. The earthquake led then-California Gov. Gray Davis to declare a state of emergency, just as Gov. Jerry Brown did on Sunday.

In both earthquakes, the most seriously injured person was a child.

In fact, Nathan Schank, then only 5 years old, was the only serious casualty of the Napa Valley quake of 2000. A 46-pound boy at the time by his mother's reckoning, Nathan suffered extensive internal injuries when he was buried by the fireplace of his family's rented home.

The boy and his then 7-year-old brother Adam had thrown a slumber party to give an older cousin from Washington a sendoff at the end of the summer. The boy's mother said the fireplace was slightly cracked and was not used.

"We never dreamed it would be a concern safety-wise," the boy's mother told the Los Angeles Times in 2000. "It was only a little crack -- it didn't look like it was moving anywhere. And up until now, Napa has never been known for earthquakes."

Though given only a 20% chance to survive, Nathan pulled through.

Twitter: @hbecerraLATimes