By Brandon Mercer
AMERICAN CANYON (CBS SF) — A strong magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay Area early Sunday morning, centered in the Napa County town of American Canyon, severely damaging historic buildings in Downtown Napa, rupturing gas lines and water mains across Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties leading to multiple fires, plunging entire communities into darkness and buckling and cracking roadways on Highway 37 and State Route 121.
At least 36 aftershocks were recorded following the earthquake, the largest quake to hit the Bay Area since the 6.9 magnitude quake hit Loma Prieta nearly 25 years ago.
Initial reports had the earthquake measuring 6.1 magnitude. A significant aftershock of at least magnitude 5.0 is likely in the next seven days, with U.S. Geological Survey scientists forecasting a 54 percent chance.
There is a 5 percent chance of another quake greater than 6.0.
Napa City Councilmember Peter Mott reports the library and the historic Chinese laundry building suffered significant damage, and bricks and glass are scattered across downtown sidewalks on Second and Third Streets. The old courthouse in Napa has significant damage to the brick as well.
At least three homes in Napa were on fire.
Water mains in residential areas are broken, but it’s not clear how bad the damage from flooding is.
Several injuries were reported by hospitals around Napa because of broken glass.
As the first major earthquake to hit the Bay Area in the age of smartphones and social media, photos and damage reports quickly surfaced moments after the quake.
The CHP closed State Road 37 from Sonoma Blvd to Fairgrounds because of possible roadway damage.
KCBS’ Todd Smoot reports a Safeway store in Sonoma has no power, and all employees evacuated the store while firefighters checked inside. The shaking was especially strong there because of the nature of the land being on alluvial gravel, sand and silt deposits.
Callers to KCBS Radio reported a significant shaking motion in the city of Napa, lasting for an extended time.
In Contra Costa County, the quake was felt as a long, rolling, shaking motion with several peaks of movement lasting for an extended time.
People as far away as the South Bay and Davis reported being woken up by the quake, which was centered 6.7 miles beneath Earth’s surface.
Within minutes, more than 600 people had commented on our initial Facebook post about the quake.
“EVERYONE in Petaluma is up and chatting on Facebook. We definitely felt it!” said Ann Popovic.
“(It) Scared me. I’m still scared. Lasted a really LONG time,” said Valerie Gunnell on Facebook.
“Woke up south San Jose,” said Brianne Laiwa.
“Now that was a real earthquake,” exclaimed San Francisco Sunset district resident Matt Wandell.