4.4 magnitude earthquake jolts SF Bay Area

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

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

Across central Santa Rosa, Residents reported broken gas lines and water pipes, sending firefighters across town to investigate the damage.

Lowenthal, who lives near the epicenter in a neighborhood rebuilt after the 2017 fires, said he was cooking dinner when the quake hit. Things fell off the walls, light fixtures broke.

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

People in Santa Rosa reported feeling two big jolts and the U.S.G.S. 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 out alerts that reached people moments before the first temblor.

“Bravo to the CA earthquake early warning system,” a Twitter user named Amanda Stupi wrote. “Had enough time to get my kid and I under the kitchen table. Husband had enough time to text us and make sure we saw alert. My mind is kind of blown.”

The U.S.G.S. said that by the time the ShakeAlert warning went out on people’s cell phones, the quakes had already been felt in a 9-mile radius from the epicenter. People in Vallejo had an 11.4-second warning before the quakes hit; San Francisco got an 18.8-second warning and Oakland residents got a 19.2-second warning. ShakeAlert had warned that the quake could be as big as a magnitude 5.0.

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

“Aftershocks happen in reaction to motion around the fault, it’s like the fault’s way of rearranging itself after a bigger event,” she said.

At home near downtown Santa Rosa, Brooks Anderson was gathering garbage to put out on trash night when he heard a rumble then felt a slam – as if a semi truck had hit the house. A group of his oil paintings featuring the Maine Coast fell off the walls.

“I wasn’t sure if a plane had gone down nearby – it was so loud,” said Anderson, an artist.

Then moments later the second slam hit. More fell of Anderson’s works fell off the wall. Again, another set depicting Maine.

His home, built in 1876, has been through two damaging earthquakes that have struck the Bay Area. The 1906 quake that devastated San Francisco and twin tremors in 1969 that hit the North Bay.

“It’s been through some doozies,” Anderson said. “What did this earthquake have against Maine?”

Tyler Silvy, 36, was at home in Santa Rosa when the shaking began. Silvy, who moved to California in 2019, said he was afraid because he’d never experienced anything like it. Silvy said that he’s only encountered one earthquake before this in Oklahoma but that it paled in comparison to this one.

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

Silvy said his main priority was the safety of his kids and that he had them crouch near the couch in his house away from the walls away from hanging decorations.

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

Police in Santa Rosa said they did not receive reports of major injuries.

Santa Rosa city councilwoman Victoria Fleming was canvassing for her re-election campaign in a neighborhood near the epicenter when she felt the first jolt and hit the ground. Her volunteer was getting up but she pulled her back down in time for the aftershock.

“People came out of their houses and said, ‘Victoria, what’s your policy on earthquakes?’” Fleming said. “I said, ‘If re-elected I will ban them.’”

Tuesday’s quakes were the second and third to rattle the S.F. Bay — on Sunday, a 2.9 magnitude quake shook up the East Bay.

Check out The Chronicle’s earthquake tracker for more information about recent seismic events.

Julie Johnson (she/her) and Jordan Parker (he/him) are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: julie.johnson@sfchronicle.com, jordan.parker@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @jparkerwrites @juliejohnson



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