By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center was quickly evacuated Thursday morning when a loud explosion rocked the 17-story building near City Hall.

Officials discovered an elevator shaft suffered “structural failure.”

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A Deputy Sheriff Sergeant who sat in on the status of Monsignor William Lynn’s retrial was making the rounds, and as he entered an elevator, a rear employees elevator near the top of the CJC, a major malfunction sent debris into his carriage.

Then, debris fell in sympathy to an adjoining elevator in a common shaft on top of another employee on a lower floor.

Judge Patrick Dugan, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq was hoping it wasn’t too serious.

“Sounded like an explosion. It shook our room, to the point where someone said, ‘that felt like the earthquake a few years ago.'”

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Tawa: ‘What floor were you on?’

“The tenth floor.”

Fire officials are looking into the “structural failure of the elevator.”

The CJC was closed for the day while they look into the mishap.

The elevators in the building are from the company thyssentrupp who released the following statement regarding the incident:

“thyssenkrupp Elevator is aware of the accident at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, Penn. Our thoughts are with those affected by this incident. It is too early to fully assess the situation. However, we are actively working with local authorities and building management. Our primary focus is on keeping the riding public safe.”

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City records show that the state checked out all CJC elevators in mid-June, and they passed inspection. The remaining six elevators there were cleared again Thursday.