Covering Loma Prieta: ‘There Were Clouds of Concrete Everywhere’

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FOX40 veteran photojournalist Larry Muchowski was working at his first television job in Santa Rosa when the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake rattled the Bay Area.

“We were watching the World Series, upstairs in the newsroom and all the screens went to static,” Muchowski said. “Then, like, four seconds later the building starts shaking, and in California there’s a lot of earthquakes, but when it kept going the manager yelled ‘Get out of the building!’ so we all ran out."

The photographer was sent to gather video of the destruction.

“You could see across the bay, the Marina District, and it was on fire and there was this huge plume,” said Muchowski as he navigated toward what became an iconic image showing the earthquake’s tremendous power and destruction.

The Cypress structure had collapsed, trapping drivers, instantly killing 41 people.

Muchowski had no idea how extensive the damage was until he arrived at the scene.

“We get down to the East Bay, and that's where the freeway collapsed on itself. And I remember getting out and you could taste the concrete in your mouth," Muchowski said. "It was just like, there was so much destruction, there were clouds of concrete everywhere and you could taste it.”

That’s when reality set in.

“And then you got out and you realized how many people and cars were inside that sandwiched freeway and it... it was pretty heavy... a pretty big event.”

Katie Hackett contributed to this report.