Earthquake Shakes WNC

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August 25. 2005 12:13PM

Earthquake shakes Western North Carolina
No major damage reported in Henderson or Transylvania counties

Updated: 12 noon

This map shows the approximate location of Wednesday night's 3.8 magnitude earthquake near Hot Springs, N.C. (United States Geographical Survey)

Emergency officials reported a minor earthquake late Wednesday night in Western North Carolina near the Tennessee border, but there were no immediate reports of damages.

The United States Geological Survey website,, confirmed a 3.8 magnitude quake shook the mountains approximately 2 miles from Hot Springs, N.C. at 11:09 p.m.

Rocks crashed down onto N.C. 209 in Madison County, but the road remained open. In the Laurel community, the quake damaged the foundation of a mobile home, said Gary Elkins, a Madison County emergency dispatcher.

And the quake tossed dishes and pictures off walls in some Yancey County homes, said Tiawana Ramsey, an earthquake planner for the N.C. Division of Emergency Management.

The temblor shook houses as far as Athens, Ga., she said. WVLT-TV in Knoxville, Tenn., reported calls from residents feeling the quake along the North Carolina-Tennessee border in Sevier, Greene and Cocke counties.

Residents inundated police and fire departments with calls. "It was hectic there for a while," said Mack Salley, with Buncombe County's Emergency Management Center.

Asheville resident Jean Harrell was awakened by the quake when the temblor shook her whole house.

"I went downstairs because I thought my water heater had blown up," Harrell said. "Then I thought maybe it was my gas system. It scared me to death."

Sheriff's deputies and troopers with N.C. Highway Patrol checked landslide-prone areas of Interstate 40 and communities in the northern part of the county. The roads there appeared to be in good shape.

The Southeast has scores of faults, the most famous of which is the Brevard Fault, which runs through the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe and McDowell counties.

“We felt it,” said Karen Owen, a dispatcher with the 9-1-1 Communications Center in Brevard. “You could hear it rumble and it lasted about 20 seconds.”

There were no immediate reports of damage in Henderson or Transylvania counties due to the tremors, but it did create some excitement from among the public.

“Oh my gosh, we got a lot of calls,” said Henderson County Emergency dispatcher Susan Jones, “but that was mostly just people wanting to know what had happened.”

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