Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake, Aftershocks Strike Northern California; 2 Dead, 11 Injured

Up to 70,000 thousands residentes continue to be without power following the earthquake in Humboldt County.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A powerful earthquake that residents described as “violent” rocked a rural stretch of the Northern California coast early Tuesday, leaving two dead, 11 injured and 70,000 without power as a rain storm was about to roll in, officials said.

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake left tens of thousands of people without power and damaged homes and roads on the Northern California coast, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The quake was reported around 2:40 a.m. and was centered 22.7 miles southwest of the city of Eureka in Humboldt County, the USGS said. The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 2.6 to 3.9.

No tsunami warning was issued.

Though the region, part of California’s lightly populated, forested far north coast, is prone to earthquakes, residents described the incident as particularly jarring.

The county Office of Emergency Services also said there were reports of widespread damage to roads and homes and advised residents to check their gas and water lines for damage.

There was “some damage” to buildings and infrastructure in Humboldt County, 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, according to Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Approximately 11 people were reported as injured, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in an early afternoon statement. Officials noted there were two deaths as result of “medical emergencies” during or just after the quake.

Damage was mostly focused on the small communities of Rio Dell, Ferndale and Fortuna, Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said during a news conference in Sacramento.

Ghilarducci did not have specifics on the extent of damage to structures and infrastructure, saying assessments were still underway. That included the number of homes that might be damaged badly enough to displace residents, he said.

The California Highway Patrol closed the Ferndale Bridge for possible structural damage. The bridge crosses the Eel River on Highway 211 just west of Highway 101. It was unclear when the bridge would reopen.

Caroline Titus tweeted video in her darkened Ferndale home of toppled furniture and smashed dishes.

What to Keep in an Earthquake Emergency Kit

"Our home is a 140-year-old Victorian. The north/south shaking is very evident in what fell," she tweeted.

“That was a big one,” she said in another tweet.

The earthquake came just days after a small magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area, waking up thousands of people before 4 a.m. Saturday and causing minor damage.

That earthquake was centered in El Cerrito, about a 16-mile drive to downtown San Francisco.

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 was part of the three-county Emerald Triangle where clandestine cannabis production was legendary.

Contact Us