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The streets were dark as night fell on the famed San Francisco skyline after an earthquake Tuesday that sent knee-quivering fear down the California coast.

Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards, visiting San Francisco, was caught in the giant tremor along the notorious San Andreas fault."Suddenly, a large granite building began swaying," said Richards, a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas who had been shopping in posh Union Square before a fund raiser. "The mortar was shaking loose, and dust was coming out of the joints in the building.

"People came running out of the shops and stores. All the windows shattered in the Saks Fifth Avenue store. All I could think was, `I'm not going to let that big granite building fall on me.' "

A huge fire gutted a square block in the Marina district late Tuesday. Nearby Lombard Street was a montage of sirens, smoke and helicopter search lights.

People clustered around phones trying to reach loved ones. Others used flashlights to check buildings for cracks and other damage. Pizza parlors and delicatessens operated by candlelight, with lines of people extending out the doorways.

Gangs of young people with baseball bats were seen roaming San Francisco's blacked-out streets, and there were reports of muggings. Hundreds of National Guard and Army troops were called in to deal with possible violence and looting.

The powerful quake was felt as far away as Fresno, about 120 miles to the southeast.

"It was just wild. It started off kind of slowly, then it picked up," said Gordon Finwall, 25, a lawyer in downtown San Jose, 40 miles southeast of San Francisco.

"I went over to the doorway and (another attorney) went under the desk. The building across the way was swaying all over the place.

"At one point, I heard this crash and all these file cabinets fell over. I could barely stand up. My knees almost gave out. It's now almost two hours later and I'm still panicked," Finwall said.

The earthquake struck a half-hour before Game 3 of the World Series was scheduled to start at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Players, their families and many of the 60,000-plus fans rushed onto the safety of the field as the stadium shuddered under the rolling motion.

United Press International staff writer William Murray said many baseball fans kept remarkably cool.

"Phones immediately went out and the sky went dark from power outages," Murray said. "But no panic swept the stands. Fans stood looking at each other wondering what to do."

As the sun set, San Francisco, darkened by the massive power outages, took on a ghostly hue.

"The Davies Symphony Hall oddly glowed like a lit jewel in the middle of the darkness," Murray reported. "Inexplicably, its lights were on where there were no other lights for miles."

A three-quarter moon hung over the city, but only sporadic lights dotted its famed skyline. The amber glow of automobile tail lights shone in the strange darkness.