Rayburn evacuated after alarms sound throughout building

The exact cause of the alarm and evacuation is not yet known

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. holds a meeting in between Rayburn and Longworth after alarms sounded throughout the Rayburn House Office Building causing an evacuation Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (Katherine Tully-McManus/ CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers, staff and visitors were evacuated for almost two hours on Tuesday afternoon after fire alarms sounded throughout the Rayburn House Office Building.

Capitol Police and Architect of the Capitol staff were on the scene, including a fire marshal and emergency management personnel. Staff was evacuated at about 1:30 p.m. and allowed to return after 3:15 p.m. 

A source within AOC told Roll Call that the alarm was triggered accidentally but wouldn’t elaborate on the root cause.

Capitol Police conducted a search of the building and did not find any hazards, according to a Capitol Police spokesperson.

Construction workers were still up on scaffolding when the evacuation began. They came down well after the evacuation started and were permitted back in the building at 2:15 p.m. before the all-clear was given.

There is construction underway in Rayburn, including the massive Rayburn Garage renovation and other projects.

DC Fire personnel were on the scene for under 10 minutes and expressed displeasure and confusion about whether they were needed.

“We came dressed up as firemen,” one firefighter in full gear told the group of Capitol Police and AOC workers. “That’s a discrepancy.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer made the best of the evacuation, holding a meeting outside between Rayburn and Longworth.

The Oregon Democrat talked autonomous vehicles, public transit and parking structures with a group of transportation experts from universities.


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