Waukesha Fire Department orders evacuation of 3 buildings due to condo's 'imminent threat of collapse'

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dozens of people in Waukesha are displaced after a six-story condo building was evacuated because of concerns it could collapse.

Thursday evening the Horizon West Condominium Building located at 315 N. West Ave. was deemed structurally unsound. The city's news release cited an independent structural engineering report that blamed the compromised conditions of existing structural columns.

Fire and police crews went door-to-door to make sure people got out.

People who live there are unsure of what's next. Alicia Halvensleben said, "One of the officers let me know there's something about a center beam that is no longer structurally sound, which I take to mean I don't know if we'll be able to go back."

Alicia was buying a new car when she got the call her building was being evacuated.

Alicia said her first thoughts were, "Will I be able to work, will I have clothes tomorrow, will I be able to brush my teeth. The very basic things. The trivial stuff is still in there, and I don't know if I'll get it back."

She left the sale and rushed home, one of dozens of people given 15 minutes to grab what they could and get out.

She said, "We have a lot of younger families, we have empty nesters, people who are retired, some who had to be pulled out on wheelchairs and whatnot, so I'm sure there are some people who really struggled to get their stuff together because physically they couldn't run around their house the way I was jogging up the stairs."

Neighbors say the gas lines were shut off Thursday night as a precaution, but the power was left on. Some people left so quickly the lights were still on inside.

Three city buses were on standby to transport people, and Alicia says many of her neighbors were already put up in rooms at the Baymont Inn.

She and her boyfriend will stay with his mother, but already friends are reaching out with leads on a new place to live. She said, "People are already looking out for us, that's one thing I love about Waukesha, especially now more than ever. We've really come together as a community."

The condo building is on the same block where the parade suspect left his car and ran through backyards November 21.

One woman driving by said it's scary to see red and blue lights flashing in her neighborhood again. But many people affected -including a man who lives in a house adjacent to the condo that was also evacuated- says the commotion is tolerable as long as no one is hurt.

The city is working with the Salvation Army of Waukesha to assist families with immediate housing needs.

Due to the possible collapse zone the properties at 323 N. West Avenue and 307 N. West Avenue are also being evacuated.

This is a developing story. Stick with CBS 58 for updates on-air and online.

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