It wasn't a bomb or downed aircraft that rocked the Nicola Valley during the weekend, but a magnitude-2.6 earthquake that struck 20 kilometres north of Merritt.
At first, residents thought a bomb went off in the community, said Mayor Susan Roline. Earthquakes have occurred in Merritt before, but always with a side-to-side motion. The one that hit at 9:26 p.m. on Friday felt different.
"This was more of a straight-down boom. It felt like a huge tree had fallen on the house," Roline said.
Adding to the drama was a series of what sounded like explosions immediately after the ground moved, she said. The combined effect was enough to send residents out of their homes and onto the their front lawns.
Roline said some people got in their vehicles and drove to investigate.
"It was funny how it all tied together," she said. "We were looking for smoke or something but there was nothing there."
RCMP and the fire department did respond. Roline said the explosions were actually fireworks set off by children playing near the Coldwater River.
City crews surveyed for damage. Fortunately, no sewer lines were ruptured and not even a single window was shattered.
Friday's quake was the biggest Roline has experienced. She said people felt the shock 10 to 12 km out of town.
Merritt can expect an earthquake every five to 10 years, said Garry Rogers, an earthquake scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada.
"Over the last 50 years it seems like there's an earthquake once every seven years in Merritt," he said.
He said all of southwest B.C. is earthquake prone, with the biggest risk in the Lower Mainland.
"An earthquake can pop up anywhere," said Rogers.