Thousands without power after earthquake in Northern California

Dec 20 (Reuters) – A powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook California’s northern coast on Tuesday, injuring two people, damaging a bridge and roads and knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses.

The quake, which struck 215 miles (350 kilometers) north of San Francisco, caused gas leaks, disrupted power lines and set a building on fire, which was quickly extinguished and caused the collapse of two others, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The department received 70 emergency calls after the quake struck at 2:34 a.m. (1034 GMT), including a report of a trapped person in need of rescue, according to spokesman Tran Beyea.

Two people were injured near the quake’s epicenter in Humboldt County, where extensive damage to roads and homes was reported, the sheriff’s office said. One of the injured was a child with a head injury and the other was an elderly man with a broken hip, local media reported citing the sheriff’s office.

It is not yet known whether the quake caused any deaths.

The Cal Highway Patrol said officers had closed the Ferndale Bridge over the Eel River into and out of Ferndale because of four large cracks on the bridge and the danger of the road sliding.

Officials have closed at least four roads in Humboldt County because of the large crack and are investigating a possible gas line rupture, the Highway Patrol said. According to the patrol, a section of the road was sinking.

JB Mathers told CBS News that his home in the nearby small city of Eureka was “shaking and shaking and shaking.”

“Anything that was on the wall fell off the wall – fish tanks and all that,” Mathers said. “It’s still dark here. We can’t assess the damage.”

The quake, which likely caused mild to moderate damage and several aftershocks, struck at a depth of 11.1 miles (17.9 kilometers), according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

According to the Los Angeles Times, California and Nevada experience approximately five magnitude 6.0 to 7.0 earthquakes each year, based on recent data.

Caroline Titus, editor and publisher of Ferndale Enterprise, posted a video on Twitter of collapsed furniture and household items strewn across the floor of her Ferndale home.

“Sorry about the dark video,” she wrote. “No power yet.”

About 79,000 homes and businesses were without power in the area around Ferndale and Humboldt counties, according to grid-tracking website

PG&E crews are evaluating the utility’s gas and electric systems for any damage and hazards, which could take several days, company spokeswoman Karly Hernandez said.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Laila Kearney in New York City and Akriti Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Mark Porter and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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