- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

PARKFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A strong earthquake yesterday shook California from Los Angeles to San Francisco, cracking pipes, breaking bottles of wine and knocking pictures off walls.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries from the magnitude-6.0 quake and its more than 160 aftershocks.

The quake was centered about seven miles southeast of Parkfield, a town of 37 persons that is known as California’s earthquake capital. The town is one of the world’s most seismically active areas, located on the San Andreas Fault.

“Things were shaking so bad you couldn’t tell where to go next,” said Parkfield Vineyard owner Harry Miller, who grows 170 acres of wine grapes. “Trees shaking like brooms, and dust coming from everywhere.”

The quake tipped over about 300 cases of his wine, and five or six of Mr. Miller’s buildings — including his home — were damaged. Most of his water pipes burst.

The quake struck at 10:15 a.m. PST and was felt along a 350-mile stretch, as far north as Sacramento and as far south as Santa Ana, southeast of Los Angeles. The center was about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The very few residents of Parkfield — a half-dozen buildings on either side of a street in a valley surrounded by oak-studded hills — pride themselves on the area’s seismic activity. People driving into town pass a sign reading “Now entering the North American plate.”

“I’ll take my earthquakes over those hurricanes any day,” said John Varian, a lifelong resident and owner of the Parkfield Cafe, where food spilled out of the cupboards yesterday.

A magnitude-6 quake can cause severe damage, although any problems are generally far less serious in remote areas and places such as California, where there are strong building codes.

“This is earthquake country. It’s a larger earthquake than what usually occurs, but it’s not unprecedented,” said U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna.

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