Earthquake stopped sale of Rio Dell home, now unsafe and red-tagged

A couple from Rio Dell was in the process of selling their first home when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Humboldt County Tuesday morning, causing the house to become unsafe and uninhabitable.

Shane and Jacqui McIntosh, who are both in their twenties, moved into their home on Painter Street in 2019, shortly before getting married. They considered it a safe haven until they were jolted awake just after 2:30 a.m.

"The jolting had actually brought our beds apart, and we fell through the middle of our split-king bed," said Jacqui McIntosh. "I just remember grabbing the leg of the bed and just holding on for dear life as we’re getting jostled around."

The sheer force of the quake caused the house to shift off its foundation. The gas line was crushed and leaking, and the water line snapped and was spewing water. Nearby homes were evacuated for several hours.

The couple rescued their 15-year-old dog and potbelly pig, but their cat is still missing.

While Humboldt County is prone to earthquakes, they said this one was more severe.

"Instead of rattling and a little shaking it was violent and throwing stuff," Shane McIntosh said. "All of our furniture is at least three feet away from where it was positioned originally. I remember hearing crashing, cracking, snapping."

The home was on the market listed for $330,000 and the couple said a potential buyers was expected to make an offer the same day the quake hit.

They previously decided they wanted to move after last year’s earthquake and job changes.

The house is not retrofitted, so it doesn’t qualify for earthquake insurance. The McIntoshs said they had just applied for government grant money to do that.

"We have a giant lawn ornament, our house," Jacqui McIntosh said. "We still have a mortgage to pay, but there’s nothing."

With just days before Christmas, they’re not alone. At least 27 homes in the county have been red-tagged, meaning they’re unsafe and structurally damaged.

Even for those who do qualify for earthquake insurance, the coverage is limited and often too expensive for homeowners.

Federal, state and local officials are doing damage assessments and cost estimated to determine if the state qualifies for a federal disaster declaration.

That funding could provide additional help to those whose homes are uninhabitable or extremely damaged, including 15 in the town of Rio Dell.

"We are a small community and this has been a huge blow for us," said Jacqui McIntosh. "I don’t know how we’re going to recover. I know we’re resilient, and we will, but we need help."

The couple’s family has setup a GoFundMe page to help with rebuilding their lives.

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU