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Fire at homeless encampment prompted US Capitol lockdown, situation cleared

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Monday morning, the U.S. Capitol complex was forced to temporarily lock down due to an “external security threat,” Capitol Police (USCP) said, after reports of a fire a few blocks away from the Capitol at a homeless encampment under a bridge.

This scare comes as tension and fear grip Washington, D.C. following the January 6 attack on the Capitol by rioters and as the city is preparing for President-elect Joe Biden‘s Wednesday inauguration. The complex is currently under strict security protection by the National Guard, resembling a military zone.

MORE ON INAUGURATION: Up to 25,000 National Guard troops to be in D.C. on Inauguration Day

USCP has since lifted the shelter-in-place order, NBC News reported.

Shortly before 10:30 am (EST), an email alert from USCP was sent to lawmakers telling those indoors to “stay away from exterior windows and doors” and for those outdoors to “seek cover,” according to multiple outlets.

This lockdown occurred during a rehearsal of Biden’s inauguration, forcing individuals to leave the West Front and to seek refuge inside the Capitol for safety. In videos and pictures, smoke could be seen rising from behind the Capitol Building.

D.C. Fire and EMS announced just before 10:30 am that it “responded to an outside fire in the 100 block of H St SE that has been extinguished,” reporting no injuries.

The U.S. Secret Service announced at 10:50 am that “There is no threat to the public.”

Around 11 am, another USCP email alert was sent to lawmakers saying that “a small explosion occurred” under the bridge at First and F Streets SE but that “the incident has been contained,” according to multiple reports. Staff and personnel, however, “are directed to continue to avoid coming to the Capitol Complex area until further notice.”

Shortly after 11 am, D.C. Fire and EMS reported that the fire “involved a homeless tent beneath freeway” and that the tent’s occupant “indicated she was using propane.” This, the department noted, “may explain report of ‘explosion.'”

The department also reported that there was one person with a non-life threatening injury and no other injuries, saying that the same female occupant “declined transport to the hospital” and that they have asked the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region to “provide assistance.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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White House Confirms It Is Looking Into Shutting Down Oil Pipeline Amid Fuel Crisis

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Gas Pipeline

The Biden administration confirmed that it is considering shutting down an oil pipeline in Michigan despite the ongoing fuel crisis in the country.

“Revoking the permits for the [Line 5] pipeline that delivers oil from western Canada across Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and Michigan and into Ontario, would please environmentalists who have urged the White House to block fossil fuel infrastructure, but it would aggravate a rift with Canada and could exacerbate a spike in energy prices that Republicans are already using as a political weapon,” Politico Pro reported. “Killing a pipeline while U.S. gasoline prices are the highest in years could be political poison for Biden, who has seen his approval rating crash in recent months.”

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked about the report during Monday’s press briefing, asking, “why is the administration now considering shutting down the Line 5 pipeline from Canada to Michigan?”

“So, Peter, that is inaccurate,” Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed. “That is not right. So, any reporting indicating that some decision has been made, again, is not accurate. … So, again, I would — it is inaccurate what you just stated, but —”

“What’s inaccurate?” Doocy asked.

“The reporting about us wanting to shut down the Line 5,” Jean-Pierre said.

“I didn’t say ‘wanting.’  I said, is it being studied right now?  Is the administration studying the impact of shutting down the Line 5?”

“Yeah. Yes, we are. We are,” Jean-Pierre admitted.

 

The news comes as gas prices have reached their highest since 2014, when Biden was vice president, and are currently about 50% higher than they were when Biden entered office.

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