Officials Say Capitol Evacuation, Lockdown Due To Fire Blocks Away

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's ca... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation's capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 18, 2021 10:53 a.m.

Officials are clarifying that a Monday evacuation and lockdown at the Capitol, and disruption of an inauguration rehearsal, were related to a fire blocks away.

Kristen Metzger, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police, told TPM that a fire at a homeless encampment — the location of which matched that of the congressional alert — had been extinguished with no injuries reported.

Reporters at the Capitol were evacuated or locked down amid an “external security threat” as footage captured plumes of smoke rising near the building.

Morning Consult reporter Eli Yokley tweeted out a note from Capitol police warning people to stay away from doors and windows due to an “external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE.”

Some reporters were evacuated from the building.

A closer picture of the alleged source of the smoke:

Officials told the Associated Press that the fire was not “believed to be a threat.” D.C. is on high alert in the days before the inauguration, after the January 6 invasion and ransacking of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Shortly before 2 p.m. ET, a spokesperson for the Capitol Police told TPM that “earlier today, in an abundance of caution following a possible external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets, SE, Acting Chief Pittman ordered a shutdown of the Capitol Complex.  Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident was investigated.”

“Approximately 45 minutes later, the lockdown was lifted,” the spokesperson said. “The fire under the bridge was contained by DC Fire and EMS.”

This post has been updated.

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