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Capitol put on lockdown after fire reported several blocks away

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NBC News


The Capitol complex was locked down on Monday due to an “external security threat,” U.S. Capitol Police said, after a fire was reported several blocks away under a nearby bridge.

An email alert sent out to lawmakers said that there was no entry or exit from the complex as of 10:30 a.m. Those inside the buildings were instructed to stay away from exterior windows and doors. Those outside were ordered to “seek cover.”

Nearby reporters noted that smoke could be seen rising in the distance behind the Capitol.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment prompted the security alert. The D.C. Fire Department noted that a nearby fire was extinguished on the 100 block of H Street SE. 

The Capitol is currently operating as a military zone ahead of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE’s inauguration this week, as police ramped up security after a pro-Trump mob overwhelming police to storm the building on Jan. 6, an attack that resulted in five deaths. President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE was impeached by the House last week on a charge of inciting insurrection at the Capitol. 

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There are currently 7-foot barriers that have been staged around the Capitol, its office buildings, and the Supreme Court. The National Mall is temporarily closed to public access in the days leading up to and following the inauguration on Jan. 20. 

Roughly 25,000 National Guard troops are deployed to D.C. in order to boost security around the inauguration. Biden, Trump, Vice President Pence and lawmakers have been briefed on potential threats to the inauguration. Biden will be sworn in outdoors at the Capitol on Wednesday in a ceremony that has been scaled-down for health safety reasons during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Morgan Chalfant contributed. 

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