Prince George's County Police used bullhorns to encourage residents of a crumbling and condemned condominium complex to comply with orders to evacuate the buildings immediately.
Dozens of officers were at the Lynnhill condominiums to oversee what authorities are describing as a "humanitarian evacuation" after buildings were condemned by fire authorities Tuesday for chronic safety violations.
Many residents ignored and 12:30 p.m. deadline to evacuate earlier in the day.
At least 133 people are being affected by the crisis, according to Prince George's County's Social Services Department. The department is offering hotel vouchers as well as rental and moving assistance to affected families. There is a plan to care for pets and to provide job assistance to those who need it.
The troubled 210-unit condo complex is blighted by abandoned units, crumbling ceilings and walls, leaking sewer pipes, mounds of trash and numerous unresolved fire code violations.
The financially troubled condominium association has been unable to fix problems because too few condo owners are paying their fees. The situation has languished for years.
A four-alarm fire in 2015 left a corner of one building destroyed and boarded. There has been no attempt to repair the damage.
Authorities say the current situation is compounded by suspected squatters living in abandoned units and tenants who have been paying rent to suspected phantom landlords who claim control of units they do not own.
On Wednesday, county crews boarded the ground floor units and surrounded the buildings with chain link fencing to prevent evacuated residents from returning.
Those who were not able to immediately move possessions will be allowed escorted access to the buildings daily between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The property will be secured by the Prince George's County Police Department.