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Fire Damages Storage Space in Rayburn

Three rooms in the Rayburn House Office Building suffered damage Wednesday night when a fire broke out in the structure’s basement level.

According to a Capitol Police spokesman, an internal alarm system indicated the fire shortly before 11 p.m., and officers on patrol responded to the area.

“There were reports of heavy smoke throughout the building and into the garage area,” said Officer Michael Lauer, a police spokesman.

The Capitol Police officers activated a manual fire alarm to notify the D.C. Fire Department, which extinguished the flames a short time later.

During the fire about 50 to 60 people were evacuated from the building. The two Capitol Police officers who responded to the initial alarm were treated for smoke inhalation at George Washington University Hospital, but no major injuries were reported.

Capitol Police could not provide the location of the damaged rooms but Lauer noted those areas are storage facilities and not Congressional office space.

A spokeswoman for the D.C. Fire Department said the fire originated in a hallway near the Rayburn Building’s parking garage.

“It was a very small, well-contained fire in some debris,” said Kathryn Friedman, a department spokeswoman.

“There was some smoke that moved through into the parking garage and into some of the lower parts of the building, but it shouldn’t have any effect on operations there,” she added.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lauer said, and cost estimates on the damaged areas are not yet available.