WASHINGTON — More than 300 people have been displaced as Friday’s high winds took down a wall at an apartment complex in Prince George’s County.
County Fire and EMS spokesman Mark Brady said that a wall collapsed at the Andrews Ridge apartment complex in Suitland, Maryland, around 3 p.m. Friday.
First responders were on the scene after a resident called saying the exterior wall to a building was “bowing outward.”
“Just after we evacuated the building, that wall collapsed,” Brady said.
He said a strong wind apparently lifted the flat roofs of some buildings, causing pressure to increase inside the building and causing a wall to “bow outward and eventually collapse out.”
Fire officials investigated other buildings in the apartment complex and found similar circumstances, Brady said.
“While we were on location, we found that roofing material off this three-story apartment building blew off, striking one of our medic units, causing significant damage — kind of shaken up the crew a little bit,” he said. No other injuries were reported.
Emergency crews evacuated the entire complex, and more than 300 residents were displaced. Fire officials were at the apartment complex Friday throughout the afternoon and into part of the evening.
On Saturday, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said that about 50 percent of the buildings of the complex have some structural damage.
He said that the roof of one of the buildings “flew off and actually destroyed some cars and an ambulance … right as we were going to help people out.”
According to Project Manager Tyrone Wells, from the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management, it may take a few days for people to return to their homes. He said the boiler facility that provides hot water for the building had to be shut down due to damage.
“Without hot water, they can’t allow the folks to return,” said Wells.
Brady said that crews will need to be able to safely go in and inspect the buildings under better conditions before they allow people to return.
Any resident who has nowhere to go should report to Suitland High School, said Brady. American Red Cross and the Office of Emergency Management is helping with efforts.
“It’s hard to describe to people that winds can be that powerful to rip building apartments, but it happened,” said Baker.