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Fire several blocks away from Capitol briefly forces lockdown during inauguration rehearsal

Biden Inauguration rehearsal evacuaiton
Posted at 10:42 AM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 12:23:41-05

The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment about a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns.

The lockdown, which lasted roughly 30 minutes, was lifted around 11:30 a.m. ET.

Law enforcement officials later said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration.

Officials said the evacuation of some participants and the lockdown was ordered by the acting Capitol police chief in an abundance of caution.

Biden was not participating in the rehearsal.

D.C.'s fire and EMS department later tweeted that the fire was taking place in the 100 block of H Street SE, which is located five to six blocks south of the Capitol.

Associated Press photos show those in attendance for the rehearsal hustling to evacuate the area.

Capitol Breach
High level security officials make a survey of the East Front of the Capitol after an announcement of security problems during a rehearsal for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden Inauguration
Members of the military band evacuate from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol during a rehearsal the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Capitol Hill and the surrounding areas have been under high security in recent days following the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall, which is typically packed during presidential inaugurations, is closed through Thursday, meaning it will be empty during Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

Security officials have also installed non-scalable fencing around the Capitol, and police and federal law enforcement have set up dozens of security checkpoints throughout D.C.

This story is breaking and will be updated.