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US Capitol on lockdown, says witness

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Capitol was shut down temporarily on Monday (Jan 18) out of an abundance of caution after a fire broke out near the complex, the Capitol Police said, underscoring security jitters days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“There is no threat to the public,” the US Secret Service said in a tweet.

The US Capitol Police said in a statement that members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident was being investigated.

The follows the Jan 6 attack on the US Capitol in Washington by Trump supporters, some of whom called for the death of Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Biden’s November election victory.

All participants in the rehearsal for Biden’s inauguration, were evacuated into the building, and participants were being held in the Capitol rotunda and other indoor areas, according to a Reuters witness.

Biden will be sworn in on Wednesday.

The city’s fire department said on Twitter that firefighters put out an outside fire near the Capitol complex.

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