Magnitude 6.4 quake shakes northern California, leaves tens of thousands without power

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RIO DELL, Calif., Dec. 20 (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook California’s far north coast before dawn on Tuesday, injuring at least two people, damaging roads, bridges and power lines and destroying tens of thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity.

The quake, which struck at 2:30 a.m. PST and was followed by more than three dozen aftershocks, occurred 220 miles (350 km) north of San Francisco off the coast of Humboldt County, a largely rural area known for its redwood forests, local seafood, and , timber industry and dairy farms.

The region is also known for relatively frequent seismic activity, although the latest quake has seemed to cause more disruption than others in recent years.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), Tuesday’s earthquake started a fire in one building, which was quickly extinguished, and two other buildings collapsed.

The department said dispatchers handled 70 emergency calls after the quake, including one report of a person trapped and in need of rescue, spokesman Tran Beyea said.

The county sheriff’s office reported two injuries near the quake’s epicenter, where damage to homes and roads was widespread. One of those victims was a child with a head injury and the other an elderly person with a broken hip, according to local media reports citing the sheriff’s office.

There were no immediate official reports of fatalities.

Police closed the main bridge over the River Eel to Ferndale, a picturesque town known for its Victorian shopfronts and gingerbread-style houses, after four large cracks were discovered in the span. The California Highway Patrol also said the foundation of the roadway there was in danger of slipping.

The highway patrol reported that at least four other roads in Humboldt County were closed due to earthquake damage and a possible rupture of the gas line under investigation. Part of the roadway was reportedly sinking, the agency said.

“The shaking was really intense,” said Daniel Holsapple, 33, a resident of nearby Arcata, who said he grabbed his pet cat and ran outside after being jolted awake in pitch darkness by the movement of the house and an emergency warning from his mobile phone .

“There was no visibility into what was going on. It was just the sensation and that general low rumbling sound of the foundation of the whole house shaking,” he said.

Janet Calderon, 32, who lives in the neighboring town of Eureka, said she was already awake to notice her two cats seemed agitated just before the quake hit, and her second flood bedroom was shaking “really hard.”

“Everything on my desk fell over,” she said.

While earthquakes that produce noticeable tremors are routine in California, magnitude 6.4 quakes are less common and potentially dangerous, as they can cause significant damage to buildings, such as partial collapse or shifting of structures from their foundations.

Weak shaking from Tuesday’s quake, which struck at the relatively shallow depth of 17.9 km (11.1 mi), was felt as far away as San Francisco, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

According to recent data from the Los Angeles Times, about five magnitude 6.0 to 7.0 earthquakes are recorded each year in California and Nevada.

Caroline Titus, the former editor and publisher of the Ferndale Enterprise, posted a video to Twitter of overturned furniture and household items scattered on the floor of her Ferndale home.

“Sorry about the dark video,” she wrote. “Still flowing out.”

According to the PowerOutage.us power grid tracking website, about 79,000 homes and businesses were without power in Ferndale and surrounding Humboldt County.

PG&E crews were assessing the utility’s gas and power system for any damage and hazards, which could take several days, company spokesman Karly Hernandez said.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Laila Kearney in New York City, and Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama, Mark Porter, Lisa Shumaker, and Richard Chang

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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