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Capitol Building put on alert after a small fire several blocks away

The incident involved a tent near the Capitol Building, DC Fire and EMS spokesman Vito Maggiolo said. The fire was on the 100 block of H St SE, authorities said, and was reported extinguished around 10:30 a.m. ET. One person suffered a non-life threatening injury, city authorities said.

“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. There are currently no fires on or within the Capitol campus. Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated. As more information becomes available, this message will be updated,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said.

The US Secret Service tweeted that there is “no threat to the public.”

The response underlines the immense sense of alert in Washington, DC, this week. It comes less than two weeks after the deadly siege at the Capitol left five dead and two days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, which has turned the city’s downtown into an armed police zone.

The Capitol building remained in lockdown shortly after 11 a.m. ET even though an alert sent to staff in the building said the “incident has been contained.”

There are currently hundreds of National Guard troops on the east front of the Capitol. Another alert to staff urges people to stay inside, to not leave and to stay away from windows and doors.

Capitol authorities evacuated the west front of the building as well as the first-floor crypt.

“I just tried to leave (the Longworth House Office Building) after getting my Covid test, only to be told that the building is now on lockdown. Apparently some external threat. Propane tanks under some bridge. Stuck in my office,” a Democratic congressman told CNN.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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