Washington, DC – An exterior security threat at the U.S. Capitol on Monday morning prompted evacuations from several areas of the Capitol complex as well as orders to stay away from windows to the outside but it all may have been caused by a fire at a homeless encampment a few blocks away.
U.S. Capitol Police evacuated staff from the West Front and the crypt, a large circular room that is located directly under the Capitol Rotunda, ABC News reported.
The House and Senate were in recess on Jan. 18.
There was a rehearsal for the Inaugural of President-Elect Joe Biden in progress when the alert was sent out, according to the Express.
Participants were told to “seek cover” and loudspeakers across the Capitol complex blasted the message “Due to an external security threat, stay where you are. Stay away from doors and windows.”
UPDATED INFO: The U.S. Capitol is being locked down due to an external security threat. No evacuation has been ordered. The House and Senate are in recess and the Capitol is relatively empty today. The external security threat is thought to involve a tunnel in DC.
— 93 WIBC Indianapolis (@93wibc) January 18, 2021
Pictures were posted to social media that showed smoke rising up above and behind the Capitol building, prompting panic of an attack.
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
NEW: The West Front of the Capitol has just been evacuated. We’ve been moved, staff were sent this notice:
All buildings within the Capitol Complex: External security threat, no entry or exit is permitted, stay away from exterior windows, doors. If outside, seek cover. USCP
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 18, 2021
But it turned out that the smoke was due to a fire at a homeless encampment under a freeway about a half a mile away.
Capitol Hill evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a nearby homeless encampment, a law enforcement official says – #Capitol #CapitolHill #BreakingNews #WashingtonState pic.twitter.com/C2mpJvCPYm
— Utkarsh Singh (@utkarshs88) January 18, 2021
NBC NEWS: Capitol Hill evacuation prompted by fire at nearby homeless encampment
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) January 18, 2021
A homeless man under the bridge had his belongings go up in flames.
As a result- the Capitol goes under lockdown over exterior threat. 🙄
By tomorrow there will be evacuations when car alarms go off.
— Mason (@tweetfacts2me) January 18, 2021
From @dcfireems: “#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.” #NexstarDC
— Jessi Turnure (@JessiTurnure) January 18, 2021
More than 25,000 National Guardsmen have been deployed into the nation’s capital ahead of the Inauguration on Wednesday.
This is a developing story and we will keep you updated. For all of our updates, follow us on Facebook and go to your news feed preferences under your settings, then select that you want to see more of The Police Tribune’s posts in your news feed. Otherwise, Facebook may not show you updates.