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5.2 Quake Hits Calif. Wine Country

September 3, 2000

NAPA, Calif. (AP) _ A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit the heart of Northern California’s wine country early Sunday, injuring more than 25 people, knocking out windows, breaking gas and water mains, and shutting down power to about half of the county, police said.

A 41-year-old man was in serious condition and a 5-year-old child was in critical condition after sustaining head injuries from falling objects, said Denise Mace, spokeswoman at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa.

About 25 other people went to the hospital’s emergency room with earthquake-related injuries, mostly minor lacerations, Mace said.

The quake hit at 1:36 a.m., 3 miles southwest of Yountville and 6 miles northeast of Sonoma in Napa Valley, according to the Internet site maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. The shaking woke people as far south as San Francisco, some 50 miles away.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Mark Bunger, who has lived in Napa County his whole life, described the quake as ``by far the most severe I’ve ever felt.

``Usually it’s a rolling, but this was more of a real jolting. My wife and kids were screaming. It was quite upsetting.″

He said his two-story house in nearby Browns Valley sustained no major damage.

``There’s stuff all over the floor, a lot of cracked plaster. I was relieved it was nothing really costly.″

While there were no immediate reports of injuries directly related to the quake, medical technicians responded to emergencies that appeared to be indirectly related, including reports of heart trouble, Napa Police Cmdr. Steve Geoghegan said.

About 6,000 customers were without power three hours after the quake, down from a high of 10,000, according to a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman.

A handful of people reported gas leaks and PG&E crews were on their way to check out those homes, Jonathan Franks said.

The Napa Valley Marriott hotel in Napa was evacuated for safety reasons, according to a woman at the front desk. A few San Francisco Bay area residents cut their long weekends short and went home after the quake, she said.

Bunger said Napa area roads were crowded at 2 a.m. ``It looked like commute traffic on a Monday morning,″ he said.

Geoghegan said the quake woke him and his wife: ``It was like a rolling-type movement. It lasted for a few seconds. My office is trashed and my house is trashed.″

Dispatcher Rick Wallace of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department in Santa Rosa, about 30 miles northwest of the quake’s epicenter, said he fielded about 100 calls from residents reporting the quake and felt it himself, though the sheriff’s department is in an earthquake-proof building.

``We shook twice, back to back, with everything swaying, like a waterbed,″ Wallace said.


On the Net:

U.S. Geological Survey: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov