7.0 Earthquake Rocks All Of Northwest

Strong jolt centered 35 miles southwest of Seattle.

Feb. 28, 2001- SEATTLE

A strong earthquake shook the Pacific Northwest Wednesday, shattering

windows and crumbling some walls in downtown Seattle and rattling

Portland for nearly half a minute.

The magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit at approximately 10:55 a.m., according

to federal officials at the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

in Palmer, Alaska.

It was centered 35 miles southwest of Seattle.

The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said the

magnitude was 7.0, while the

University of Washington Seismology Lab, which had listed the quake at 6.5,

revised the magnitude

downward to 6.2. The tsunami center said it was a 6.4.

Injury, Damage Reports

An elevator shaft at the Olympia Hotel in Olympia collapsed, and 10 people

were unaccounted for.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle reported it was treating 12 people for

quake-related injuries, three of them serious.

St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma was reporting at least 11 people being

treated for injuries, mostly minor cuts and bruises.

St. Peter's Hospital in Olympia was treating one minor injury.

A major bridge in downtown Olympia, the Fourth Avenue Bridge, has been

closed because of structural damage.

Windows were blown out at the tower at Sea-Tac International Airport,

several brick buildings were damaged south of downtown Seattle, and

shelves and cupboards spilled out their contents at homes and stores.

A house was reported collapsed into the water near the Tacoma Narrows


All Washington State Ferries docks were closed, Seattle City Hall was

evacuated and schoolchildren were sent home throughout the area.

Bellevue College Closed

Bellevue Community College closed after reports of structural damage.

A spot fire near a warehouse also broke out in a West Seattle industrial area.

About 30 people spent more than an hour at the top of the Seattle Space

Needle. They were finally brought down after the elevators were checked and

deemed safe.

The quake caused a large crack in the dome of the Washington state Capitol

in Olympia.

Boeing Field Closed

King County Executive Ron Sims said Boeing Field in Seattle has been closed

because of earthquake damage to the runway. Sims expected the airport,

which is owned by King County, to be closed for several days.

Sims and Seattle Mayor Paul Schell said all the effort put into earthquake

preparations and retrofits in recent years helped limit damage from the

quake. The jolt was felt as far away as Salt Lake City.

Power Outages

Puget Sound Energy reported that 200,000 customers in Western Washington

lost service when the

earthquake tripped circuit breakers.

Spokesman Grant Ringel says most of the outages were in south King, Pierce

and Thurston counties. The utility was inspecting for damage and hoped to

have power restored to everyone by late afternoon.

No Flights Allowed

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman William Shumann said

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was closed. The tower and the local

radar approach and departure control facility have been evacuated, he said,

and the FAA was trying to set up a temporary operations center.

The regional center handling traffic in Washington and Oregon, near Auburn,

was operating on backup power, Shumann said.

The FAA ordered a national ground stop for Seattle, which means no flights

to Seattle were being allowed to take off anywhere in the country.

'Everyone Was Panicked'

"Everyone was panicked," said Paulette DeRooy of Seattle, who was in an

elevator descending from the 15th floor from a downtown Seattle building

when the temblor struck. She and several others scrambled onto a fire escape.

Screams erupted at a nearby hotel, where Microsoft founder Bill Gates was

addressing an education and technology conference. He was whisked away as

his audience bolted for the exits. Some audience members were knocked down

by others trying to get out.

Video of the speech showed the stage shaking violently, and some overhead

lights falling to the floor.

In downtown Portland, office buildings swayed for 20 to 30 seconds.

Television stations there and in Seattle were deluged by calls from viewers

reporting rolling motion across the area.

'Biggest Thing Ever'

"This is the biggest thing I've ever felt," said Darcy Nebergall, 24, of

Seattle, who was at work in a downtown skyscraper.

"It felt kind of like a big roller coaster going by. You could feel the

building sway, but you know they're built to withstand this kind of stuff.

Or you hope anyway."

Windows were popped out of some downtown building, and people who had left

buildings gathered in the streets.

Alice Ayers, at her Seattle home, said it was "like a giant truck was going

by. Everything was kind of


'People Are Frightened'

On the 35th floor of the Westin Building in downtown Seattle, the violent

shaking alarmed a number of


"People are frightened," said KOMO 4 News Internet executive producer Stan

Orchard, but there appeared to be no significant damage.

Across the street, however, part of the brick facade of the Icon restaurant

was crumbled.

West Seattle Mess

In West Seattle, at the 62nd Avenue SW apartment of another KOMO employee,

the cupboards and

refrigerator opened and emptied all their contents and a television fell on

the floor. Still, there appeared to be no structural damage in the


Fisher Plaza and the Space Needle swayed violently, as did all high-rises.

Power was out in the Issaquah-Hobart area.

Olympia Near Epicenter

Closer to the epicenter in Olympia, legislators, government workers and

visiting school children flooded out of the Capitol and other buildings.

The state Senate was in session.

"The chandelier started going and the floor started shaking. Someone yelled

get under the table and so we did," said Sen. Bob Morton, R-Orient. "The

sudden violence let us know that this was a bad one."

Cracked plaster, gilt and even paintings fell from the walls, but Morton

said he saw no sign of major structural damage.

Officials were particularly afraid the Capitol dome would collapse, he

said. Some people linked hands as they walked down the marble stairs under

the heavy dome

"If that rascal had tumbled down, it would have been all over," Morton said.



Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site