Crumbling condo displaces dozens of people in Va.

Crumbling condo displaces dozens of people

ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - More questions are being raised by neighbors in the River Towers community, after WUSA9 has learned that violations are likely to be issued by the Department of Code Compliance, according to Matthew Kaiser from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

Brian Foley, from the Department, said that moisture gathered at the base of the pilar, causing the strength to weaken over decades. On Sunday, he said the nine-story building shifted both vertically and horizontally by two to three inches.

"We do not see this too often," he said.

Foley said that the violation is more of an order to take action for the property manager. He said that there will be no punishments if the property manager follows their recommendations.

"It definitely could have been worse," said Foley. "It's not some small thing."

Firefighters evacuated 400 residents from one of the community's three towers on Sunday afternoon, in response to structural damage. The incident is expected to be discussed Monday night at a public meeting at the complex, starting at 6:00 p.m.

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The building on Wakefield Drive was evacuated around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, after residents felt the building shake. According to investigators, 180 condos were damaged, including 32 of them which remained closed to the residents on Monday afternoon. 87-year-old Al Spinner was forced to evacuate, along with his wife, Vera.

"The fire department came," he said. "And wouldn't let me back into my apartment. And I didn't have my cell phone. I didn't have my keys. I just had to go and leave my three cats there."

Those cats, Tazzy, Sunny, and Molly were stuck inside all night, before they were retrieved by Fairfax County firefighters on Monday afternoon. Vera Spinner said the entire ordeal was stressful.

"Traumatic," she said. "Absolutely traumatic this whole thing."

Kaiser told WUSA9 that it appears that "50 years of water damage" was a factor, although he said a more detailed evaluation was not yet available. County leaders said that a column shifted a few inches, which caused "some cracks to form in the walls" as well as the "crumbling of some bricks on the pillars outside of the building."

Samantha Worman, a resident of the complex, said that the evacuation was concerning.

"I'm just a little nervous right now," she said. "It's just a little nervous that this portion - the front of the building - can not be occupied. So what does that mean for the rest of the building?"

County leaders said that the management company is set to provide an update on repairs once it completes an assessment.


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