VALLEJO (CBS) — Churches were hit hard in Sunday’s 6.0 quake.
In Vallejo, the First Baptist Church on Sonoma Boulevard is in danger of collapsing.
The concern is that the bell tower is going to fall down. Authorities said there is a crack at the top of the nearly 100-year-old building.
Sonoma Boulevard has been closed for several blocks, as well as the elementary school across the street. The street and the school cannot be reopened until engineers are positive the tower won’t fall down.
“We wouldn’t be closing the street if we didn’t think that possibility existed,” said City Manager Daniel Keen.
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Pastor Al Marks and members of his church noticed the damage to the bell tower Monday morning. Pictures from inside show the quake cracked and splintered sections of the old tower.
“We’re just pastors not engineers so we immediately called the fire department to come out and take a look,” said Reverend Marks.
Engineers went inside the tower to find the best way to dismantle part of it. Pastor Al Marks said only by taking it apart, piece by piece, can they insure the safety of this area. Passersby were saddened to see the tower being dismantled.
But Reverend Marks says this is a blessing in disguise. The tower had been seismically retrofitted in the early 90’s after Loma Prieta. So when this quake struck, “it might have saved the whole church because of the retrofit,” he said.
Meantime, in Napa, authorities red-tagged the First Presbyterian church at 3rd Street and Randolph. Bricks have dislodged around the bell tower and the large stained-glass windows on the front are gone.
The quake sent glass and bricks showering to the steps in front and left piles of broken plaster inside.
The Methodist Church a few blocks away is also red-tagged.