Strong California Quake Leaves 70K Without Power

2 dead after 6.4 temblor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2022 1:41 PM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2022 12:47 AM CST
Strong California Quake Leaves 70K Without Power
Earthquake damage is seen outside a building in Rio Dell, Calif., Tuesday.   (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
UPDATE Dec 21, 2022 12:47 AM CST

At least two people died Tuesday after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit California's Humboldt County. At least 12 others were injured, CNN reports. Residents were describing the quake as particularly violent, the Los Angeles Times reports: "It was the most intense earthquake that I’ve felt,” says the mayor of a hard-hit area. “It was a long-duration earthquake, so it was not only significant in size at 6.4, it was also long." Some homes were knocked off their foundations and at least one structure fire was caused by the quake. Water, power, and gas lines were among the critical infrastructure that was damaged, and some areas were under a boil-water advisory. Those who died suffered medical emergencies either during or just after the quake, and officials say emergency services could not reach them in a timely fashion.

Dec 20, 2022 1:41 PM CST

A strong earthquake shook a rural stretch of Northern California early Tuesday, jolting residents awake, cutting off power to more than 70,000 people, and damaging some buildings and a roadway, officials said. Two injuries were reported. The magnitude 6.4 earthquake occurred at 2:34am near Ferndale, a small community about 210 miles northwest of San Francisco and close to the Pacific coast, per the AP. The epicenter was just offshore at a depth of about 10 miles. Numerous aftershocks followed. Assessments are still underway, but damage appears to have been relatively minimal given the quake's size.

The region is part of California's lightly populated far north coast, home to redwood forests, mountains, a port, and a state university. Long before the state legalized marijuana, Humboldt County was part of the three-county Emerald Triangle where clandestine cannabis production was legendary. Two injuries were reported but both people were expected to recover. There is "some damage" to buildings and infrastructure, and two hospitals in the area lost power and were running on generators, but the scale of the damage appeared to be "minimal" compared to the strength of the quake, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

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Authorities closed an important bridge in Ferndale that was showing damage. State Sen. Mike McGuire, who represents the area, said the small city of Rio Dell, home to just a few thousand people, sustained most of the damage. McGuire was not in the area at the time of the earthquake, but received reports of "violent," sustained shaking, he said. About 72,000 people lost power, though Pacific Gas & Electric expected electricity to be restored by evening. Humboldt County has about 136,000 residents and is in a part of the state that has a long history of large earthquakes, including a magnitude 7.0 in 1980 and a 6.8 in 2014, according to the California Earthquake Authority.

(More earthquake stories.)

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