People would have died if court had been in session when the ceiling at the Moose Jaw Queen's Bench courthouse collapsed on the weekend, a spokesman for the fire department says.
Lieut. Mike Gorgichuk says when firefighters arrived early Saturday afternoon, they found the interior of the courthouse in ruins, with lathe, plaster, wood and other debris everywhere.
"Water was running everywhere through the pipes and the sprinkler system," Gorgichuk said.
"We opened the room into the courtroom ... there was debris piled up six feet deep."
No one was injured, but if it had happened during court hours, the outcome would have been far different, he said.
"If this had happened on Monday when the court was in session, we would have had dead people and a complete disaster," Gorgichuk said.
Building inspectors will be on site today, trying to figure out what happened.
Court services have been suspended until the staff can move across the street.
They are setting up shop at the building that houses provincial court. The temporary offices are expected to be opened on Friday.
The fire department estimated the damage to the Queen's Bench building — which was completed in 1909 — could top $1 million.
In addition to structural repairs, there's also water damage and possible mould problems to be taken into consideration, Gorgichuk said.
"It could be very, very expensive," he said.