In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, authorities are taking any and all security threats in and around the Capitol building seriously, especially before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
On Monday morning (Jan. 18), emergency messages echoed throughout Capitol Hill just as the dress rehearsal for the inauguration was about to begin. The emergency call was prompted after smoke was seen rising into the sky near the U.S. Capitol building. Everyone who was on Capitol Hill was ordered to find shelter inside and to stay away from all doors and windows until the coast was clear.
BREAKING: Smoke rising behind Capitol building. Inauguration rehearsal appears to be evacuating. Emergency announcement playing at Capitol grounds. pic.twitter.com/86J9S8CsMY— Jackson Proskow (@JProskowGlobal) January 18, 2021
Shortly after the lockdown went into effect, authorities confirmed that the fire started at a homeless encampment under a highway bridge on the 100 block of H Street, which is one mile from the Capitol. The D.C. fire department was able to put out the fire and eliminate the threat.
While the fire was easily contained, the external threat is one of many that authorities are trying to contain before the inauguration this Wednesday. Security is extra tight in the days following the deadly insurrection. The FBI is focused on apprehending every suspect who entered the Capitol building and investigating all threats from outside of D.C. and even within their own security detail.
The National Guard, who are expecting at least to have 25,000 soldiers on the ground during the inauguration, is currently screening each soldier ahead of the event. The goal is to weed out any members of the National Guard who could pose a threat to the incoming president, vice president, and all others who will be in attendance. Prior to today’s lockdown, authorities have already stopped a man at a checkpoint with fake inauguration credentials, an unregistered handgun, and 500 rounds of ammunition.