Residents forced out of Alexandria apartment complex due to structural problems

Several dozen people are out of their homes in Alexandria because of concerns their condominium building could collapse.

The building on Wakefield Drive is part of River Towers Condominiums. It was evacuated around 1:30 Sunday afternoon after residents felt the building shake. Some cracks formed in walls and doors were knocked of their hinges.

"There was a jolt," said resident Terry Gish. "Maybe two or three seconds. It felt like something moved up and down and then the windows started rattling and shaking."

Officials later said deteriorating columns in the front of the building were to blame.

"The weight of the building just crushed them," said Brian Foley, Fairfax County Building Official. "And (the building) came down two to three inches, and shifted over another two to three inches."

Foley said 32 units over the columns are "uninhabitable," and it's unknown when residents will be able to return. The owners of the building must hire engineers to repair the damage and get the building back in place.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, people in the other 128 units in the building were able to return.

One family forced out of their home provided FOX 5 with photos of the cracks that formed inside their condo.

"It was really scary," said Rita Wood. "And our unit, our son's bedroom and our bedroom, we have all these cracks and the floors are coming up."

A Red Cross Shelter was set up at nearby Belle View Elementary. As of 11 p.m. Sunday, "no one" sheltered there .