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White House campus building catches fire

Washington, Dec. 19: The historic Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House caught fire this morning leading firefighters to douse the second and third floors with water to extinguish the blaze.

The only reported injury from the fire appeared to be a minor laceration to the hand of a US Marine who is stationed at the building, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. The extent of water, fire and smoke damage to the ornate, late 19th-century building just west of the White House was not immediately clear.

Etter said the fire began on the second floor with smoke coming out from an electrical closet there. There was “significant smoke, quite a bit”, when the fire was reported, Etter said. The smoke rose from the second floor to fill the building, billowing so heavily at one point that grey gusts could be seen coming from windows on both the east and west sides.

Etter would not speculate on exactly where the fire originated due to the early stage of the investigation and a request for discretion by the US Secret Service. There had been construction in the building recently.

The building originally included the state, war and navy departments. Today it houses the majority of the White House staff, including aides to the Vice-President, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council.

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