The Herald, Sharon,
PA Posted Saturday, Sept. 26, 1998

MERCER COUNTY AREA

All shook up about nothing
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Earthquake rocks region; impact minor
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5.2 TREMOR CAUSES MORE EXCITEMENT THAN DAMAGE


By Herald Staff Writers

Yes, the earth did move.

The region was hit by its first earthquake since 1986 at 3:52 p.m. Friday.

The quake measured 5.2 on the Richter scale and caused trailers to shake on their foundations in Transfer, rattled windows in downtown Sharon and sent chimneys rolling off roofs in Greenville and Jamestown.

The U.S. Geological Center in Boulder, Colo. said the quake was centered about five miles west of Greenville north of Route 358 in West Salem Township, near the Ohio border.

The agency's accuracy of pinpointing a epicenter is "probably within a few miles and that's with perfect data," said Stuart Koyanagi, a geophysicist with the National Earthquake Information Center, Golden, Colo.

People in New York, Michigan, Toronto, Canada, and throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania felt the tremors, according to the information center.

"My heart went 100 miles per hour,'' exclaimed Arnella Barris of West Middlesex. "It sounded like a big roller shaking everything."

She was at home watching The Weather Channel when the brief rumble occurred. Her television lost power temporarily.

"I've been through an earthquake, in California years ago, and that was the first thing I thought,'' she said.

Mercer County 911 handled about 150 calls within 17 minutes of the tremor, said Rick Boggs, the public information officer.

"A lot of people didn't realize what had happened," he said, adding that neither did 911 operators until it was confirmed by the state's Emergency Management Agency.

"When you get 150 calls basically saying the same thing, then you know something was happening," Boggs said, adding that the calls were coming from all over the county.

No major damage or injuries were reported after the quake. The tremor did send a man to the emergency room at UPMC Horizon, Greenville, about 5:30 p.m. He fell on the ground at Trinity Industries Greenville Rail Car Division, and hurt his arm, nursing supervisor Tina Zank said.

There were no reports of any power outages, said Pennsylvania Power Co. Mercer County Area Manager Randal J. Coleman. A home on Calvin Drive in Greenville did have its electricity shut off so workers could remove the remnants of a chimney knocked off by the quake, he added.

Marko Bourne, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said all the western counties except Washington and Greene experienced the earthquake and were assessing damages. Lawrence and Crawford counties reported no damages.

Mercer County 911 did advise residents to conduct a thorough inspection of their homes for possible damage, such as natural gas or water line leaks.

The Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum rocked and rolled in downtown Sharon.

"It was like a tumbling noise, like a herd of buffalo coming through," said Anthony Watkins, a 22-year-old supervisor at the museum.

Jamestown Police Chief David Rankin said no injuries were reported there but two, possibly three, chimneys were damaged and 10 businesses reported damage to inventory.

"Golden Dawn was probably the worst,'' he said. "They had to close down for a while.''

Rankin said he was home at the time. "I thought it was some type of explosion,'' he said. "But it was probably the noise of the house moving. It shook quite a bit.''

Sheila Speir of Transfer said she also a boom just before the shaking began. "There was a big ka-boom,'' she said. "I thought a tanker truck blew up at Colt Road and Route 18.''

The area's last earthquake, on Jan. 31, 1986, measured 3.2 on the Richter scale.

Robert Timmerman, a vice president of First National Bank's Sharon branch, said this quake outshook the 1986 tremors.

"It started as a low rumbling and I thought that the boiler in the building had blown up," he said. "It caught all of us by surprise and moved some of the pictures on the walls."

Many of the bank customers and employees went outside onto East State Street, he said, adding that many people from other businesses did the same. Everyone was trying to figure out what happened.

"I thought I was shaking, but then the windows were shaking and making a noise," said Kim Weaver who was at home in Brookfield. "I really thought it was the wind."

Marci Reiner of Masury watched the balcony of her apartment shake and thought a truck had hit the building.

"It lasted for about 10 seconds but it seemed a lot longer," she said.

The earthquake center in Colorado will determine during the next few days which fault the quake happened on, said Waverly Person, a geophysicist at the center.

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Updated Sept. 26, 1998 4:30 a..m.
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