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earthquake, aftershocks hit North Bay; There are no initial reports of major damage, officials say


Catherine Geraghty was taking a weightlifting class Tuesday night at a 24-hour fitness center on Industrial Highway in Santa Rosa when suddenly everything started to fluctuate.

“We were in the middle of a squat with the bar up when the shaking started. We all looked at each other—and wondered, ‘Should we continue class?’

Moments later, she added, when the aftershock struck, the gym was evacuated.

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck North Bay on Tuesday night, seconds before another tremor occurred, which officials believe was a 3.9-magnitude aftershock.

Officials said that despite the back-to-back tremors, North Bay was left relatively free of damage and injuries.

The epicenter was two miles northeast of central Santa Rosa, according to the US Geological Survey. A preliminary map from the agency showed that their centers were located off Parker Hill Road, north of Chanati Road, within the city limits.

Aftershocks must occur on the same fault line and within a certain distance of the main shock in order to be considered a follow-up, said Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert system coordinator at USGS.

“It may take a while to determine it, but it looks like it was dependent on everything we saw,” he said.

De Groot said the earthquake was fairly common in size for California.

“Grade 3 and 4 events happen fairly frequently. Grade 5 events happen less frequently, but that was kind of a factory run,” he said.

The first quake occurred at 6:39 pm and was followed by the aftershock 42 seconds later, according to the US Geological Survey.

Seismologist Lucy Jones wrote on Twitter that the earthquakes were on the Rodgers Creek Fault, part of the San Andreas system. She said the last major earthquake along the Rodgers Creek Fault was in the 18th century.

“Each earthquake has a 5% chance of being followed by a larger earthquake over the next 3 days,” Jones said in a tweet. “But most are only a little bit bigger. When it’s at fault, capable of a big earthquake, the chance that the next earthquake will be big is a little higher, but it’s still small.”

By 7 p.m., the Santa Rosa Police Department issued a warning not to report significant damage or injuries.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department later announced that it was responding to multiple reports of gas odors, gas leaks and fire alarms, as well as stalled elevators. The agency added that it had not received reports of major injuries related to the quake.

About 760 Pacific Gas & Electric customers in the Fontinggrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa and the city’s northeastern region lost power. Power was restored at 8:11 p.m., and the exact cause of the blackout is being investigated, said Carly Hernandez, a PG&E spokesperson.

She added that crews also responded to 14 calls about the smell of gas. Hernandez said anyone who detects gas odors should call 911 or call PG&E at 800-743-5002.

Coddingtown Mall employees and customers were evacuated and stayed outside for 10 minutes, according to Lillian Ambrose, a store manager for Icing jewelry store.

Few pieces of merchandise fell off the wall and only one customer was inside the store at the time.

“I freaked out, but the customer kind of laughed. She put her basket on the floor and we got out,” Ambrose said.

At about 8pm, an employee at Whole Foods in Coddingtown was telling customers the store had closed before the manager came out moments later and told them it was open.

The employee, Abby Falls, said that few things fell off the shelves, no employees were injured and everyone exited the store safely.

“We were all in the middle of the transaction – it was crazy,” Foles said. “I was with another cashier and all of a sudden the whole store started shaking. Her reaction was really quick, she sank under the nearest cash register.”

“We were heavily criticized” when contacted by The Press Democrat shortly after the quakes, said a dispatcher from Redcom, the Sonoma County Fire and Medical Emergency.

Several Sonoma County residents reported to The Press Democrat that they felt the quakes. Reports on Twitter showed residents were in shock as far north as Mendocino County and as far south as Santa Clara County.




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