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Earthquake Rattles Northwest

July 3, 1999

SATSOP, Wash. (AP) _ Jim Moore had just closed his furniture and appliance store and was preparing to drive home when the building’s windows blew out and the roof caved in as he watched.

``When I think about it,″ he said after checking the damage to his Aberdeen business, ``if I had only been just a couple of minutes later getting out of there ... .″

The region’s biggest earthquake in more than 30 years jolted residents from Oregon to British Columbia and injured at least four people. The quake struck at 6:43 p.m. Friday and was estimated at magnitude 5.5 by the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

It was centered near Satsop, about 70 miles southwest of Seattle.

``This is essentially the biggest earthquake in this region since 1965,″ said Steve Malone, a University of Washington seismologist.

The area’s second sharp earthquake in two days toppled chimneys and ruptured gas and water mains. A hospital reported four people with quake-related injuries that were not considered serious.

``Stuff was flying off the shelves,″ said Trudy Donnor, who was getting ready to start cleaning the four-story state Insurance Building in Olympia when the quake hit. ``I didn’t know a concrete building could sway like that.″

Gas leaks and power outages were reported throughout Grays Harbor County, said Rob Harper of Washington State Emergency Management. The top floor of the three-story county courthouse received major damage.

There were no initial reports of damage to highways or bridges. But callers from Astoria, Ore., to British Columbia to Cle Elum in central Washington phoned Seattle television stations to say they had felt the quake.

``I was in the hall and I remembered you’re supposed to stand in a doorway,″ said Barbara Saben of Olympia. ``Then I thought of going outside but I could see all the power lines shaking and I felt like that wasn’t such a good idea!″

Other residents described a rolling, rumbling sensation.

``We were just sitting down to dinner and the milk started slopping out of the glasses and the baby started screaming,″ said Bonnie Fluckinger of Hoquiam. ``China from the china hutch started coming out at us. It was definitely scary.″

She and her husband tried to call 911 but the phones didn’t work.

Early reports of magnitude differed. The UW lab estimated it at 5.1 but Malone said the equipment at Golden was better at measuring deep quakes.

A quake Thursday night jolted the south Puget Sound area and had a 3.0 magnitude. It was centered near Maury Island north of Tacoma.

Separately, a magnitude 5.7 quake rumbled under the Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island, about 115 miles southwest of Port Hardy, British Columbia. The quake early Friday was not felt because of its distance from land.

Update hourly