After earthquake near Napa, up to 100 homes labeled unfit to enter


Ninety to 100 homes in Northern California have been red-tagged — that is, labeled unfit to enter — after a 6.0 earthquake struck near Napa early Sunday, and there have been more than 50 aftershocks, but a large follow-up earthquake is now unlikely, state officials announced.

The main quake 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. All fires have been extinguished, Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, told reporters Sunday afternoon.



An earlier version of this story said a child injured by a falling fireplace was taken to Santa Rosa Community Hospital. In fact, the child was taken to UC Davis Medical Center, according to Queen of the Valley Medical Center officials.

Centered about nine miles south of wine country’s Napa at 3:20 a.m., 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 “where you were located exactly.”

A little more than two hours after the quake, a shallow magnitude 3.6 tremor was reported by the USGS. The aftershock occurred at 5:47 a.m. at a depth of five miles. Scientists at UC Berkeley released a video showing an early-warning system that sent an alert 10 seconds before the earthquake.

The National California Seismic System initially put the chance of a strong aftershock in the next week at 54%, but State Geologist John G. Parrish told reporters Sunday afternoon that as the hours passed, the odds shrank. “We feel it unlikely now that there will be a large follow-up earthquake,” he said.

Napa bore the brunt of the quake’s destruction, and the downtown area of nearby Vallejo experienced “quite a bit of damage,” but “things are sort of stabilizing a little bit,” Ghilarducci said.

Six mobile homes at Napa Valley Mobile Home Park burned to the ground, officials said. Thirty-three buildings in the city of Napa were red-tagged as of 5 p.m., and numerous others were yellow-tagged, which means people were being granted only limited access.

Napa City Manager Mike Parness said three of the downtown buildings heavily damaged by the earthquake had not been retrofitted to modern standards. However, he said Napa’s oldest structure, a restaurant called the Old Adobe, appeared unharmed.


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, the city’s director of public works, told reporters. “None of our larger transmission mains appear to have been damaged,” he said. “That is really good news.”

Napa residents walked the streets of downtown in a daze at first light Sunday taking stock. Buildings were partially crumbled, homes torn apart with dressers, televisions and the contents of refrigerators torn asunder.

At least a dozen people seriously needed medical attention, including a child injured by a falling fireplace.

At Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, hospital Chief Executive Walt Mickens said about 4 p.m. that 172 people had come through the emergency room since the earthquake -- double the hospital’s daily average -- although not all injuries were quake-related.

Thirteen of those 172 patients were admitted, 12 of them for reasons related to the quake, he said. Seven suffered orthopedic injuries, mostly broken hips and one broken ankle, and five suffered cardiac or respiratory problems, possibly caused by the stress of the event. The good news, he said: Only one was in critical condition as of Sunday evening.

Mickens said the first wave of injuries came when residents got up and walked on glass or other debris. A second wave followed as people began the hard work of cleaning up. Most were treated and released, he said.


A 13-year-old boy injured by a falling fireplace was the only patient transferred out -- to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, according to hospital officials.

In the hours after the quake, the hospital building had to cope with water leaks and relied on its own generators for power, and three staffers suffered minor injuries such as sprained ankles, Mickens said.

The quake prompted about 100 calls about potential gas leaks. The leaks led officials to open two evacuation centers at Napa High School and Grace Church of Napa Valley. A number of historic buildings have been damaged, including the Sam Kee Laundry, Goodman Library and Napa County Courthouse, according to the city.

Residents reported power outages in Napa and beyond, and fire departments in several counties, along with the California Highway Patrol, were on the lookout for damage to bridges. Pictures flooding in from Twitter showed damage in homes and in the street.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said that as of 5:30 p.m., it was working to restore power to about 7,300 customers in Napa County. Earlier in the day, it said, outages reached a peak of about 70,000. According to a PG&E map, Sunday outages across the northern Bay Area included locations in American Canyon, Napa, St. Helena, Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

Gov. Brown said full emergency services have been activated: “These public safety officials are doing all they can to help residents, and those living in affected areas should follow their guidance and instruction,” he said in a statement.


All Napa Valley Unified schools will be closed Monday, the city of Napa announced.

The CHP reported that California 121 at California 29 was damaged, with cracks that could cause flat tires. The CHP for the Solano district dispatched its graveyard shift immediately to search for damage and quickly found it: An overpass in Vallejo on California 37 headed toward American Canyon showed several areas where the roadway had separated and concrete had crumbled.

CHP Sgt. Eric Lund said key bridges -- the Carquinez and Benicia bridges -- were cleared as damage free. The highway overpass was briefly ordered closed as “a precaution,” he said, as California Department of Transportation engineers reviewed it. It reopened shortly after 6 a.m.

According to the USGS, the earthquake occurred within 44 miles of a set of major faults along the San Andreas fault system that forms the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.

“There will be lessons learned from all this,” said Napa Councilman Alfredo Pedroza, who was born and raised in the area. “Once we’ve completed an initial assessment, we will look back at building and safety regulations and ask, ‘Are they adequate?’”

The earthquake jolted wine sellers in the vineyard-rich area, smashing costly bottles.

David Duncan -- president and chief executive of Silver Oak Wine in Oakville, 12 miles north of Napa -- spent the early morning sweeping his office cellar, where hundreds of bottles of expensive wine were destroyed.


His main wine cellar, where hundreds of barrels are stored on racks, was largely unharmed. Duncan salvaged three barrels that fell to the ground and leaked.

“For the wine industry, this earthquake won’t be that disruptive,” Duncan said. “It’s the people in [the city of] Napa that will feel the disruption.”

Twenty minutes before the earthquake hit, Napa wine seller Jennie Heim, 33, was awakened by the sound of her 3-year-old daughter crying.

“The crazy thing about it was our Manchester terrier also went into her room and snuggled up beside her in the bed, which made me pretty upset because the dog is supposed to sleep in a crate,” she recalled. “A little while later, the house started rattling with a low shaking that turned into a big roll.”

“My husband and I drove into town, and things were way worse than we expected,” she said. “Ceilings and roofs had caved in on buildings, especially along the east side of the river. People were lining up outside the Home Depot to buy electric power generators and supplies.”

Jennifer Patefield, 47, who runs the boutique Mariposa Ice Creamery store in Napa, said she was “jolted” awake and counted to 40 before motion stopped. The fridge emptied its contents and the china cabinet was “gone,” Patefield said, and just about everything hanging on the walls of the family home about a half-mile from the historic downtown came tumbling down.


“I surf and it was like riding a big wave,” Patefield said as she assessed the damage downtown with her husband, daughter and son. As for her store, she feared the entire stock of the small-batch ice cream prepared there would be lost if the power wasn’t restored soon.

“Every chimney is down in our neighborhood,” said Mackenzie Patefield, 15, who was worried about her high school chemistry lab. “We were doing experiments and those chemicals are probably all over the place,” she said.

Tourists were out in force, some of them startled.

“We just have snowstorms where we come from,” said Cheryllyn Tallman, 56, of New Hartford, N.Y. She and her husband were in the area for the scheduled GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma race. 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 took a tip from what she’d seen on TV and headed for a doorway.

Bevin O’Brien, 35, was shaking slightly as she walked the streets of downtown to check on City Winery, where she tends bar. She had been told not to come to work. O’Brien, who is from Tucson, called her first quake experience “terrifying.”

“We could hear it before we felt it, like someone was aggressively running up the stairs,” she said. She and her boyfriend were awake, watching “Dateline” on the couch. It was a lucky turn. The dresser fell onto her bed and the TV in that room went flying.


Talk among many was of the monetary loss likely suffered. But a sense of community prevailed.

Victor Davis, 49, who works for a local bed and breakfast he declined to name, said he was reaching for a book in the midst of a slight bout of insomnia when the quake hit. He set to work helping the 20 guests evacuate, as the kitchen is now inoperable.

“We had them sit outside and look at the stars and I brought them blankets and slippers,” he said.

Megan Hill, 52, was also marveling at the camaraderie. She ran down the hall to check on her 22-year-old daughter and slammed so hard into an open door that she suffered a deep cut to her collarbone.

Her neighborhood, on what downtown locals call one of the “tree streets,” quickly banded together, surveying for gas leaks and injuries in groups. At one home, a neighbor came in to read to a group of young children while their parents attended to the crisis.

A fifth-grade teacher, Hill said she had awakened at midnight worrying about her classroom, which she had not yet earthquake proofed.


“Did I think about my own home? No,” she said with a smile.

Her chickens, she said, “went crazy” when the quake hit. She went outside in the dark and sang “Goodnight Ladies” to them.

Romney and Mai-Duc reported from Napa and Parker and Raab from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Evan Wagstaff, Maura Dolan, Paige St. John and Marisa Gerber in Napa and Rong-Gong Lin II, Hector Becerra, Laura J. Nelson, Cindy Chang and Amina Kahn in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

For more earthquake news, follow @leeromney, @theryanparker, @EvanWagstaff, @cmaiduc and @paigestjohn on Twitter.