Participants evacuated at inaugural rehearsal after fire in homeless camp

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Participants in a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration were evacuated from the West Front of the Capitol on Monday on orders of security officials after a fire in a homeless encampment, officials said.

Those who had gathered for a walk-through, including a military band, were directed to head indoors and moved in the directed of a secure location inside the Capitol complex.

People involved in the rehearsal said security officials yelled “this is not a drill.”

Four law enforcement officials told The Associated Press there had been a blaze several blocks over and the rehearsal was evacuated in an abundance of caution. The Capitol complex and surrounding areas have been locked down after a riot there Jan. 6.

U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance.

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