County Workers Evacuated After Homemade Firecracker Explodes

February 17, 2011 Updated Feb 17, 2011 at 6:21 PM EDT

By Laura Gray

February 17, 2011 Updated Feb 17, 2011 at 6:21 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) -- The Sheriff's Office tells us a home made explosive device detonated between the 4th and 5th floors of an Erie County building. The workers inside were forced to evacuate for about an hour. Now authorities are looking for clues as to who would do this and why.
The sound of an explosion shook up dozens of county workers. Michael Licata of the Erie County Sheriff's Department tells us it sounded like, "An M80 or something of that nature. Very loud."
Just before 10 a.m.,the entire building on West Eagle Street -- which consists of employees from the board of elections and the sheriff's department -- was safely evacuated. Mary Shea tells us the fire alarm went off, "The detective said it wasn't just a scare and take the stairs, which was full of smoke already."
As he approached the stairs, Deputy Anthony Giglio noticed paint chips on the floor and the smell of sulfur. "It was a white purplish hazy smoke coming from 5th floor to the 4th floor. It smelled like firecracker material."
After nearly two hours of investigating, authorities discovered some debris on the staircase -- and evidence of a home made explosive device. "It's something in the neighborhood of we would call pyrotechnic device like an M80." says Lt. Sean Simet of the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities say this is not a terrorism situation, but it's much more serious than a prank. They're looking into who would who place a firecracker in a county building and why. Chief John Mogavero of the Buffalo Fire Department says, "It's not a high security area so there's the possibility that anyone can walk up there."
The sheriff's department was not aware of any security cameras in that building. It's investigation continues.