An “external security threat” caused the US Capitol to be placed into a lockdown Monday morning. But that threat turned out to be a fire at a nearby homeless encampment, law enforcement officials said.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram reported that the lockdown was lifted just before 11:30 a.m. in Washington, according to Capitol Police
According to multiple social-media reports, people in the West Front of the US Capitol building were evacuated, others warned to stay away from windows and doors, and those outside were told to seek cover, multiple outlets reported.
“In an abundance of caution following an external security threat under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets, SE, Acting Chief Pittman ordered a shutdown of the Capitol Complex,” US Capitol Police said in a statement. “There are currently no fires on or within the Capitol campus.”
DC Fire and EMS said Monday that they extinguished the fire at a homeless encampment. The occupant of the tent where the fire occurred was using propane, according to DC Fire. The occupant suffered non-life-threatening injuries and refused medical attention, DC Fire said.
Anxious members of Congress and their staff were told to shelter in place while authorities investigated the situation, US Capitol Police said. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia confirmed the fire started at a homeless encampment and said people inside the Capitol were alerted due to the proximity to the complex, according to the Washington Post.
Videos of smoke not far from the Capitol complex had circulated across social media Monday morning amid reports of the lockdown.
The alert came as security at the complex has been increased ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration and tensions are high due to the perceived threat of violent resistance.