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US Capitol enters brief lockdown after false alarm due to nearby fire

The US Capitol complex temporarily locks down during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment about a mile away sends a plume of smoke into the air and causes security concerns.

But law enforcement officials say there was no threat to the public and the fire is not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials say. District of Columbia firefighters responded and put out the fire.

Those who had gathered for a walk-through, including a military band, were directed to head indoors and move in the direction of a secure location inside the Capitol complex.

People involved in the rehearsal say security officials yelled “this is not a drill.”

According to a CBS correspondent, Hill staffers received the following message: “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.”

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