Officers issued the urgent warning as a presidential inaugration rehearsal was underway. Participants outside the Capitol were rushed inside the bu
Officers issued the urgent warning as a presidential inaugration rehearsal was underway. Participants outside the Capitol were rushed inside the building, according to a witness. People were then told to stay put while police investigate the threat. The warning was announced on a loudspeaker at the landmark location.
It said: “Due to an external security threat, stay where you are. Stay away from doors and windows.”
Video footage posted on social media showed smoke rising over the Washington DC skyline.
A Politico reporter said a source told her the fire was the result of a gas tank explosion.
She said: “Guard source tells me a propane tank exploded at a homeless camp near the Capitol.
“Several other propane tanks have been spotted laying around and are being investigated by police.”
Staff in House and Senate offices received a notice informing them of the lockdown.
It read: “All buildings within the Capitol Complex: Due to an external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE, no entry or exit is permitted at this time.
“You may move throughout the buildings but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover.”
The District of Colombia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department took to Twitter to warn of a nearby fire.
The department said: “#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.”
The US Secret Service said there was no threat to the wider public.
They said: “Public safety and law enforcement responded to a small fire in the area of 1st and F streets SE, Washington, DC that has been extinguished.
“Out of an abundance of caution the US Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown.
“There is no threat to the public.”
The incident came just two days before Democrat Joe Biden is due to be inaugrated as America’s 46th president.
And Capitol staff were hit with the warning less than two weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in historic riots.
More to follow…