Natural History Museum Auxiliary Building Catches Fire

A fire in a small building that houses heating and air conditioning equipment for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum sent a plume of grey smoke over the National Mall Monday morning.

The Washington Post writes the fire was reported about 7:30 a.m., when nearly a dozen fire trucks and other emergency vehicles rushed to the museum and nearby streets were closed off. By 8 a.m. the fire was mostly extinguished, but rush hour traffic was disrupted along the National Mall.

The fire, which occurred in a small building on the left side of the Natural History Museum, did not cause any injuries or damage to the museum's contents.

Heating and air conditioning units are kept separate from the Smithsonian museums to protect museum collections in case circumstances such as this fire occur.

Employees of the museum were evacuated, but the museum was not yet open to the public at the time.

Washington DC Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Crosswhite tells Reuters the cause of the fire was unclear.

A spokeswoman from the Smithsonian tells AOL Travel News the Natural History Museum opened just after its normal 10 a.m. start time today.

Photo, Make Lemons, flickr
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