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Bill Handel

Earthquake's timing left many fumbling in dark

 

Photo Credit: Steve Gregory

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NAPA, Calif. (AP) — A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. Scores were injured as the temblor knocked out power to thousands, caused gas and water lines to rupture, sparked fires and buckled roads.

The magnitude 6.0-quake struck at 3:20 a.m. PDT Sunday near the city of Napa, an oasis of Victorian-era buildings nestled in the vineyard-studded hills of Northern California. The fires also flared in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two others were damaged, officials said.

By midday Sunday, the fires were out and power was starting to be restored, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

"While it was bad, it wasn't as bad as it could be, and it was very manageable from a regional perspective," Ghilarducci said.

The quake struck about six miles south of Napa and lasted 10 to 20 seconds depending on proximity to the epicenter, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the largest to shake the San Francisco Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake struck in 1989, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60 people, most when an Oakland freeway fell.

It was felt widely throughout the region, from more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

For many, the quake struck at the worst time possible, rousing them in the middle of the night and sending them fumbling in darkness to take cover and find loved ones. A number of the injuries were caused by people stepping on broken glass, falling down or being hit by furniture.

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