Presidential swearing in will be the most secured since Lincoln inaugurations, before and during the Civil War.
The US Capitol complex in Washington, DC, temporarily locked down on Monday during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment about 1.6 kilometres (one mile) away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns.
But law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration.
The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said.
Biden was not participating in the rehearsal.
A riot on January 6 at the US Capitol by Trump supporters has prompted anxiety and many security concerns about the inauguration on Wednesday.
The US Secret Service increased security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area.
Participants were ushered from the West Front of the Capitol. Those who had gathered for a walk-through, including a military band, were directed to head indoors and moved in the direction of a secure location inside the Capitol complex.
People involved in the rehearsal said security officials yelled: “This is not a drill.”
Public safety and law enforcement responded to a small fire in the area of 1st and F streets SE, Washington, D.C. that has been extinguished. Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown. There is no threat to the public. pic.twitter.com/kQfAI4NxNK
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) January 18, 2021
The US Secret Service, which is in charge of security for the inauguration, said on Twitter: “Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown. There is no threat to the public.”
The city’s fire department posted on Twitter that firefighters put out a fire near the Capitol complex.
“There were no injuries,” the department said. “This accounts for smoke that many have seen.”