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.
#DCsBravest responded to an outside fire in the 100 block of H St SE that has been extinguished. There were no injuries. This accounts for smoke that many have seen.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) January 18, 2021
Reporters at the Capitol were evacuated or locked down amid an “external security threat” as footage captured plumes of smoke rising near the building.
BREAKING: Smoke rising behind Capitol building. Inauguration rehearsal appears to be evacuating. Emergency announcement playing at Capitol grounds. pic.twitter.com/86J9S8CsMY
— Jackson Proskow (@JProskowGlobal) January 18, 2021
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.”
No entry or exit from the U.S. Capitol due to an “external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE,” per note just sent out from the Capitol Police. pic.twitter.com/1vtTVdbgOa
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) January 18, 2021
Some reporters were evacuated from the building.
A closer picture of the alleged source of the smoke:
— Don Andres (@_DCAndres) January 18, 2021
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.