VIDEO VAULT: ABC7 News Coverage from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

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Monday, October 13, 2014
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Watch the first 45 minutes of actual news coverage from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On October 17, 1989, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake ripped through the Bay Area. It was 15 chilling seconds that changed the Bay Area forever and 25 years later, those 15 seconds still evoke pictures of chaos, death, destruction, and amazing moments of heroism.

Just moments after the shock, ABC7 News anchors Cheryl Jennings and Don Sanchez were on the air explaining what was happening. And the late Pete Wilson was on the field at Candlestick Park where the San Francisco Giants were playing the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, as ABC7 became one of the first news organizations to show the extent of the damage.

Loma Prieta was a 15 second wakeup call to the Bay Area. Sixty-three people died and there was more than $7 billion in damage.

VIDEO: A look back at the hours and days surrounding Loma Prieta

It was Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. The pre-game show had just begun. When suddenly, something went wrong.

The Bay Area shook for 15 seconds. But it was hours before we realized the huge extent of the damage. Power and phone service was cut for much of the Bay Area. Radio and TV stations were knocked off the air.

But ABC7 was uniquely positioned to get the story to the Bay Area and the rest of the world. The ABC national network was covering the World Series. So the blimp was there, broadcasting the first pictures of a huge fire in San Francisco's Marina District.

And ABC7 had an emergency generator, so we were the first station back on the air, broadcasting from a makeshift set in a seriously damaged building. ABC7's Cheryl Jennings was at the anchor desk reporting, "A major earthquake, an earthquake which was felt from Oakland to Sacramento and as far south as Los Angeles."

She went onto report, "That is the Cypress section of the Nimitz Freeway and you can see, oh my God, look at that, the freeway has just completely collapsed."

PHOTOS: Loma Prieta Quake

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Crews assigned to the World Series were instead sending images of disaster.

"I'm at the corner of Jefferson and Divisadero," said ABC7 News reporter Laura Marquez. "You can see this building is collapsed. They don't know if people are still in there or they aren't. The natural gas lines have ruptured and that is what's caused that fire. The water lines have ruptured. There is no water coming out of the hydrants."

"It's been a frightening scene here," said ABC7 News reporter Leslie Brinkley. "As you can see just below me is where this crack in the Bay Bridge occurred, a 50 foot section. You can see down there below, the two cars, two cars that were on the upper deck when the bridge collapsed."

"The building began to shake," said ABC7 News anchor Pete Wilson. "It terrified people. There was yelling and screaming almost instantaneously. The cars here in the parking lot were rolling back and forth, literally bouncing on the ground."

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The downtown section of Santa Cruz was basically gone.

"I was down at the other end of the end of the mall at Ford's department store and the windows blew out and right away I just went up the mall and realized pretty much the whole mall had come down," said one bystander.

It was a night of devastating loss and selfless bravery. An event that would change the Bay Area, captured by television crews who expected to be covering a ballgame.

If you have photos of the aftermath, share them on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook by tagging them #abc7now and we may show them online or on TV.