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Faulty Fireplace Spreads Smoke in Capitol

At approximately 12:12 p.m. today, D.C. Fire and Rescue personnel responded to a call from Capitol Police that the smell of smoke was permeating throughout the third floor of the Capitol’s Senate side.

About 16 fire and emergency vehicles and 40 firefighters and EMS personnel responded to the call. After firefighters searched several rooms in the Capitol’s basement and second, third and fourth floors, the cause of the odor was found to be a malfunctioning fireplace, according to Officer Michael Lauer, a Capitol Police spokesman. Smoke was escaping from a fireplace on the third floor and spread to surrounding areas.

“This was not a huge deal, no one was evacuated,” D.C. Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter said. “They did extinguish the fire and the smoke quickly dissipated so that’s clearly what it was.”

“Apparently there’s some problems with some flues in this wing so they’re looking at that,” said Joe Shoemaker, spokesman for Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), whose Capitol office was searched by fire personnel.

— John McArdle