Recent Items – 2001
April 16, 2001
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. (CP) — An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hit northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta on Friday evening.
The earthquake, which was felt as far away as Edmonton, was centred 40 kilometres northeast of Dawson Creek, said David McCormack, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada.
There were no immediate reports of major damage, but some people said household items were broken when they were shaken to the ground.
“It was very frightening,” Muriel Romick of High Prairie, Alta., told Edmonton’s A-Channel TV news. “I’ve never been through something like that. You don’t know what it is. First, for one little second I thought I was dizzy and then I realized that no, it was actually moving. Our son lives about five blocks from here and his TV fell off the stand and broke.”
Two families were camping at Blackfoot Park near the Clayhurst Bridge when the shaking began at about 7:20 p.m.
“All of a sudden you could hear a roar and rumble and next thing you knew the trailer was shaking, the ground was shaking, everything was shaking,” said Dan Stevenson. “It didn’t last very long, but it definitely shook everything.”
Dawson Creek Mayor Blair Lekstrom said the incident triggered the city’s emergency procedures, headed by emergency coordinator Ian Darling. “Immediately they were kicked into action to make sure everything was okay,” Lekstrom said. “They started going through the checks, to make sure the hospital was okay, and then the facilities.”
“Although it was a small quake, a lot of things have to be checked.”
One of the first places Lekstrom headed to was Memorial Arena where a bullriding event was being held. Although the roof has been fixed since it collapsed under a heavy snowload in January 1997, the concern of another disaster rested in the back of Lekstrom’s mind. “As soon as everything was okay at my house, that was my first trip, straight to the arena to make sure everything was okay there,” he said.
Fortunately, everything was fine at Memorial Arena.
The bullriding show’s promoter, Terry Cooke, said he couldn’t tell the shaking and rattling of the bulls from that of the earthquake. “I was standing down on the floor and I never even felt it,” he said. “But a lot of people got scared and got up to leave and somebody came to me and said we’re having an earthquake and I didn’t even realize it.
“There was one guy standing down on the floor watching the people and they began to move so much he thought they were starting to do the wave.”
The animals took the matter in stride. “I don’t think they realized anything was going on,” Cooke said. “The bucking chutes were full of bulls and they just stood there.”
Sharon Facette was working in the Co-op gas bar when the quake hit. The shaking was strong enough to knock the cigarettes off the shelves.
“I said ‘grab hold of the counter’ and we went back and came forward again,” she said.
Wayne Cousins of B.C. Hydro said as a precautionary measure, checks were made on the W. A. C. Bennett Dam on the Peace River near Hudson’s Hope, B.C., but there was no damage.
“Although none of the earthquake censors . . . were triggered, the inspection was done anyway,” he said.
“We had our civil engineer and electricians check the facility and everything is operating normally.”
John Cassidy, a seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada near Victoria, said the quake was a surprise.
“It’s the largest earthquake we’ve ever recorded in that area” in about 50 years of keeping records, he said.
The previous largest was a 4.6 earthquake near Grande Prairie in 1970.
“There may be aftershocks but they’ll be smaller and we would expect them in the next few days,” he said.
“This was a moderate earthquake and is capable of causing damage. Had this occurred beneath Edmonton there would be damage to buildings. So it’s a good reminder if you feel shaking to get under a desk or table or something because stronger shaking that causes damage will occur a little later.”