A 4.4 magnitude earthquake shakes SF Bay Area

Two quakes hit the Bay Area within a minute of each other — a magnitude of 4.4 and an aftershock of 3.9 — knocking frames off walls and rattling nerves on Tuesday night. The first earthquake struck at 6:39 PM and the second at 6:40 PM and both had an epicenter in Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said crews were sent to reports of stuck elevators in senior housing buildings and at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He had no information yet on whether there were people inside who needed rescue.

In downtown Santa Rosa, residents reported broken gas and water pipes, prompting firefighters to be sent across the city to investigate the damage.

Lowenthal, who lives near the epicenter in a neighborhood rebuilt after the 2017 fires, said he was cooking when the earthquake struck. Things fell off the walls, lamps broke.

“I turned off the stove and said, ‘I think I’m going to work,'” he said.

People in Santa Rosa reported feeling two major shocks, and the USGS said the shaking was felt as far north as Mendocino County and as far south as Santa Clara County. The ShakeAlert early warning system sent alerts that reached people just before the first attack.

“Bravo for the Earthquake Early Warning System in CA”, a Twitter user named Amanda Stupi wrote. “I had enough time to get my kid and I under the kitchen table. Husband had plenty of time to text us and make sure we were alert. My mind is a little blown up.”

The USGS said that by the time the ShakeAlert warning went off on people’s cell phones, the earthquakes had already been felt within 9 miles of the epicenter. People in Vallejo were given an 11.4 second warning before the earthquakes hit; San Francisco was given a 18.8-second warning and Oakland residents were given a 19.2-second warning. ShakeAlert had warned that the quake could be as large as 5.0.

Jana Pursley, a geophysicist for the USGS, said the second of the two quakes was an aftershock.

“Aftershocks happen in response to movement around the fault. It’s like the fault rearranges itself after a bigger event,” she said.

At home near downtown Santa Rosa, Brooks Anderson was collecting trash to put in the dump when he heard a rumble and then felt a bang — as if a semi-truck had hit the house. A group of his oil paintings depicting the coast of Maine fell off the walls.

“I wasn’t sure if a plane had crashed nearby — it was that loud,” said Anderson, an artist.

Moments later, the second slam struck. More of Anderson’s works fell off the wall. Again, another set with Maine.

His home, built in 1876, suffered two damaging earthquakes that hit the Bay Area. The 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco and two quakes in 1969 that struck the North Bay.

“There’s been a few doozies,” Anderson said. “What triggered this earthquake in Maine?”

Tyler Silvy, 36, was at home in Santa Rosa when the shaking started. Silvy, who moved to California in 2019, said he was scared because he had never experienced anything like it. Silvy said he’s only experienced one earthquake before in Oklahoma, but it pales in comparison to this one.

“Before I got the notification, I thought someone was aggressively running up the stairs of our apartment. It was two intense, sharp rounds of shaking,” he said.

Silvy said his main priority was the safety of his children and that he had them squat by the couch in his house, away from the walls, away from hanging decorations.

“I’d rather not experience another (earthquake),” Silvy concluded about his experience.

Police in Santa Rosa said they had not received any reports of serious injuries.

Santa Rosa city councilor Victoria Fleming was recruiting for her re-election campaign in a neighborhood near the epicenter when she felt the initial shock and hit the ground. Her volunteer got up, but she pulled her back down in time for the aftershock.

“People came out of their homes and said, ‘Victoria, what’s your policy on earthquakes?'” Fleming said. “I said, ‘If I get reelected, I’ll ban them.'”

Tuesday’s quakes were the second and third to rattle the SF Bay — on Sunday, a 2.9 on the Richter scale shook the East Bay.

Check out The Chronicle’s earthquake tracker to learn more about recent seismic events.

Julie Johnson (she/her) and Jordan Parker (he/him) are staff writers for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected], [email protected] Twitter: @jparkerwrites @juliejohnson


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