Horizon West Condominium evacuates in Waukesha and could collapse

The Waukesha Fire Department ordered the evacuation Thursday evening of the 48-unit Horizon West Condominium, 315 N. West Avenue, saying the building was in imminent threat of collapse.

According to the City of Waukesha, an independent structural engineering report showed compromised conditions of the existing structural columns.

“As soon as we became aware of these issues tonight, we implemented an evacuation plan,” the city wrote on its Facebook page.

“The building consists of 48 units and all families are currently being evacuated by the police and firefighters who are going door to door. The town is working with the Waukesha Salvation Army to help families in immediate housing need.

Waukesha Police had no further information on the evacuation efforts, but an officer made it clear his point of view on the underlying reasoning.

“We’re trying to avoid a ‘Florida’,” Lt. Kevin Rice said, referring to a condo collapse in Surfside, Fla. In June that claimed the lives of nearly 100 people.

The New York Times reported that three years before the collapse, a consultant found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” and “abundant” cracking and collapse of columns, beams and walls.

Vanessa Terrazas, a neighbor less than a block from the condo on Thursday night, became aware of structural issues via a Facebook post earlier that evening. It explained what she had noticed this week.

“I work from home and have heard all the construction for the last few days,” Terrazas said. “It was noisy.”

Still, the social media post caught her off guard.

“I looked on Facebook and I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s the building right there. “So I went over there.… I just came to offer my support, to see if anyone needed anything, or if I could take a pet, or whatever,” said Terrazas.

Less than two weeks after the tragedy of the Waukesha Christmas Parade, Terrazas said the latest incident only added to the stress in the community. “How much more can Waukesha take right now?” ” she asked.

Jacqueline Gonzales, whose father lives in the building, also stayed nearby, staying one block from the building, waiting for her father to return home after a Bible study at a local church. She couldn’t reach him.

“I don’t even know if he knows he won’t have a home when he comes back from studying the Bible,” Gonzales said. “He has nothing at the moment.

She had also heard that a home inspector had visited the scene and determined that the building’s structure was no longer sound. Gonzales said she understood workers were removing balconies and air conditioning units from the building this week.

“It was just an inspector who said they didn’t know if he was going to collapse. They even take people out (to neighboring houses).”

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

Contact Drake Bentley at (414) 391-5647 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @DrakeBentleyMJS.

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