US Capitol on lockdown due to nearby fire, likely propane tank explosion

People advised to keep doors closed, stay away from the windows.

A member of the National Guard mounts guard near the US Capitol building, as the House of Representatives debates impeaching US President Donald Trump a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, US, January 13, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/BRANDON BELL)
A member of the National Guard mounts guard near the US Capitol building, as the House of Representatives debates impeaching US President Donald Trump a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, US, January 13, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRANDON BELL)
The US Capitol complex is on lockdown, with no entry or exit allowed due to an external security threat and people inside being forced to shelter in place, according to a Reuters witness.
Smoke was seen rising in the area as the security alert was announced, according to the Washington bureau chief for Canada's Global News. However, the Capitol said in a statement that there were no fires anywhere on the complex. Nonetheless, Capitol members and staff were instructed to remain sheltered in place while the situation was under investigation.

According to the Associated Press, participants in an inauguration rehearsal on the West Front of the Capitol were evacuated into the by security officials.
According to a CNN correspondent over Twitter, "an alert... went off in the Capitol urging people to stay inside and to not leave due to an external security threat. It urged people to stay away from windows and doors." According to NBC, all those outside on the complex have been instructed to "seek cover."
Taking to Twitter, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said "I'm not there, but the smoke is coming from about four blocks south of the Capitol complex, under a highway bridge. No other updates right now."
This is in line with a claim retweeted by an NBC reporter, which stated that a homeless man's belongings went up in flames under a nearby bridge.
The fire was likely the result of a propane tank in a homeless camp exploding, according to a Politico reporter citing sources in the National Guard. However, police are still investigating as several other propane tanks were found.
Both the Washington fire and rescue service and the Secret Service released statements over Twitter that the fire indeed took place nearby but not on the Capitol complex itself, and had since been extinguished.
The fire department confirmed that there were no injuries reported.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the US Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown," the Secret Service said. "There is no threat to the public."
The lockdown comes just days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and follows the January 6 attack on the US Capitol in Washington by extremists and Trump supporters, some of whom called for the death of Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Biden's election victory.