U.S. Capitol lockdown lifted, fire nearby contained


A member of the military rushes past, as people are evacuated back inside after an "external security threat" prior to a dress rehearsal for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2021. Win McNamee/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Capitol complex was shut down for about an hour on Monday out of an abundance of caution after a small fire broke out nearby, underscoring security jitters days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The Capitol Police in a statement said the lockdown was lifted and the fire nearby was contained.

"Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown. There is no threat to the public," the U.S. Secret Service said on Twitter.

The lockdown follows the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, some calling for the death of Republican Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Democrat Biden's November election victory.

The Capitol Police earlier said that as a precautionary measure its acting chief shut down the complex, which consists of the Capitol, its grounds and several buildings.

The city's fire department posted on Twitter that firefighters put out a fire outside near the Capitol complex.

"There were no injuries," the department said. "This accounts for smoke that many have seen."

Participants in the rehearsal for Biden's inauguration were held in the Capitol rotunda and other indoor areas, according to a Reuters witness. Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jim Bourg, Daphne Psaledakis and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Howard Goller)

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