MODESTO - A magnitude-5.6 earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay area Tuesday night, and residents of Modesto and Turlock felt the effects. Late at night, there were no reports of any serious damage.
The moderate temblor struck shortly after 8 p.m., about 5 miles northeast of Alum Rock and 9 miles northeast of San Jose, according to the U.S. Geological Service. The agency said it was the strongest quake to strike the Bay Area since the devastating 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.
People reported feeling the quake, which lasted about a minute, as far east as Sacramento and the Sierra foothills and as far north as Sonoma.
The quake shook The Modesto Bee newsroom for at least 20 seconds, and residents around town reported ceiling fans swaying and furniture rocking.
Dan Marsh, who lives in west Modesto, was washing his dishes when he saw the water slosh around. "It was quite a jolt," he said, adding that it's the biggest quake he's felt since moving to Modesto in 1967.
Mary Smith, who was asleep in her chair on the fourth floor of Ralston Towers downtown, was awakened by a jolt.
"It shook so bad, my chair almost went all the way back," said Smith, 86. "I was wondering, 'What the heck is going on?' It was scary."
Residents of Modesto and Turlock were among more than 300 people who reported the quake on the USGS Web site by 9:30 p.m.
The USGS reported 10 aftershocks, the biggest with a preliminary magnitude of 2.1.
In downtown San Jose, the quake caused a pipe to break, streaming water into the parking garage of a condo building, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
An employee at Beverages and More, a liquor store in Milpitas a few miles from the epicenter, reported a few broken wine bottles.
Allison Guimard, 25, a technology executive who lives in Mountain View, about 18 miles west of the epicenter, said her china started shaking and she grabbed her dog. It was the first significant earthquake for Guimard and her husband, Pierre, who moved here from New York six months ago.
"It felt like the apartment was rolling — shaking and rolling," said Pierre Guimard, 25, a home entertainment installer. "Almost like a boat on the water."
Bob Redding, a dispatcher at the California Highway Patrol dispatch center in the Central Valley town of Atwater, 70 miles east of the epicenter, said the office had received calls from numerous locations in the valley, but CHP had received no reports of injuries.
"When it first hit, we thought a truck might have hit our building," Redding said. "But it was just one jerk."
A representative of Caltrain, which runs light rail between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, said all trains were stopped as soon as the earthquake hit, and they've been running at restricted speeds ever since. There were no reports of injuries or other problems. The trains were expected to remain in service until midnight.
A spokesman for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which runs underground and aboveground trains throughout the region, said all trains were stopped soon after 8 p.m. for five minutes. Train operators were then instructed to run trains at half their normal speed, and look out the windows and perform track inspections at every stop.
"There's no damage so far and we're not anticipating any," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson. He said trains were running five to seven minutes behind schedule but were expected to get back on schedule soon.
The epicenter of the quake was in the foothills east of San Jose — not far from the home of Mayor Chuck Reed. Pictures fell off the walls of Reed's house, but the mayor said there was no major damage.
"It was a pretty strong ride here, a lot of shaking but nothing broken," Reed told AP by phone. "I've talked to a few people and we have no reports of injuries or damage. There was a lot of shaking, but it wasn't the big one."