The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. went on lockdown for a time on Monday because of a nearby fire that turned out to be from a homeless encampment a few blocks away.
Just before 10:30 a.m., an email was sent to lawmakers notifying them of a possible “external security threat” and telling them there would be no entry or exit while the lockdown was in place.
Lawmakers inside the Capitol were told to stay away from exterior windows and doors. If they were outside, they were instructed to “take cover.”
BREAKING: Entire Capitol complex including US Capitol on LOCKDOWN due to external security threat.
This email alert just went out to all lawmakers. Stay away from windows and doors. Seek cover if outside. pic.twitter.com/7n8CuCIqps
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) January 18, 2021
The action is an indication of the tension and fear surrounding the Capitol after protesters forced their way inside on January 6.
Capitol Police and other authorities in the area are charged with protecting the building and other areas of downtown D.C. through the inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday.
At the time of the lockdown, a rehearsal for the inauguration was underway, and those participating were evacuated from the Capitol’s West Front into the building as a precautionary measure. Smoke could be seen rising behind the Capitol while the fire was burning.
A D.C. Fire public relations official said the fire was extinguished with no injuries and was “very minimal” and “pretty much a non-incident.”
D.C. a military zone through inauguration
The National Guard has sent 25,000 armed troops to the Capitol to protect it for the days before, during and after the inauguration.
The area is operating as a military zone during the declared emergency period, with seven-foot barriers enclosing the Capitol, other areas, and the Supreme Court building.
While the FBI had reported threats to the Capitol and every single state capital over the weekend, no incidents of violence or protests were reported anywhere.
President Donald Trump has been blamed by Democrats and some Republicans for the January 6 violence, and House Democrats impeached him on Wednesday for inciting violence even though his behavior did not meet the legal definition of incitement. Shou