Wednesday October 17, 2012

A 4.0-magnitude earthquake struck southern Maine just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, shaking parts of the Berkshires but causing no apparent injuries.

Police stations in Adams, Dalton and Great Barring ton said there was no reported damage or in juries in those areas. A dispatcher in Adams said personnel at the station "didn't even feel it."

Initially reported as a 4.6, the quake -- which struck at 7:12 p.m. and was centered three miles west of Hollis Center, Maine -- was later downgraded to a 4.0 by the Virginia-based U.S. Geo logical Survey.

A dispatcher with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office said his office got some calls that people had felt something, but no damage was reported in the county.

Within an hour of the quake -- the epicenter was about three miles deep -- The Eagle received more than 100 comments on the newspaper's Twitter and Facebook pages, with some followers saying they felt the temblor in Pittsfield, Lee, Dalton, Adams and Lanesborough. One person in Dalton posted: "Everything in my house was shaking."

Lee resident Tom Sperlonga said he felt the quake in his mobile home on Bradley Street. He said it lasted about 10 seconds, and he originally thought it might have been a train, a washer, or someone in the mobile home walking around.

"I was wondering why my computer monitor was rocking when nothing was going on," Sperlonga said. "You could feel a little vibration in the mobile home due to the framing. There was no drama, though."

Peter Gallant, 67, of Lanes borough, was sitting at his computer desk at about 7:15 p.m., playing his nightly word game when he said his entire house shook.

"It only lasted a few seconds, but it sure was fierce," Gallant said. "I've never felt an earthquake before, so at first I thought someone had hit my house with a car."

Gallant said the quake didn't make any noise at his home, but his large computer monitor moved nearly two inches in the three or four seconds the quake lasted.

The quake also was felt in Vermont, New Hampshire and as far south as Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The last earthquake to shake the Berkshires was in August 2011, when a 5.8-magnitude temblor centered near Rich mond, Va., rattled local businesses. No local damage was reported from that quake.

In Waterboro, Maine, close to the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, about 20 customers and staff at the Waterboro House of Pizza ran outside when they heard a loud bang and the building shook.

"It was the loudest bang you ever heard in your life. We actually thought it was an explosion of some type," said owner Jessica Hill. "The back door and door to the basement blew open."

The Seabrook Station nuclear plant, about 60 miles away in New Hampshire, declared the lowest of four emergency classifications, but said it was not affected. The plant has been offline for refueling.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Maine occurred in 1904 in the Eastport area, near the state's eastern border with Canada. With a magnitude estimated at 5.7 to 5.9, it damaged chimneys and brick walls and could be felt in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To reach Adam Poulisse:
apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6214
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse