The White House was briefly on lockdown Saturday morning after a loud noise was heard outside as President Barack Obama was preparing to fly out to Selma, Alabama, to mark the anniversary of one of the most important marches in the civil rights movement.
But the lockdown ended after the Secret Service and the Washington, D.C. fire department reported it was a vendor cart fire on a nearby street and not a threat to the White House.
Reporters who gathered on the South Lawn for Obama’s departure to Selma about 10 a.m. were rushed back inside and the doors locked. Photos posted on Twitter showed heavy smoke coming from 15th and G Streets near the White House.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said a vendor cart at that intersection “apparently had a smoke or fire issue that is contained.” He said the Washington, D.C. fire department was on the scene.
D.C. fire department spokeswoman Wanda Gattison confirmed that it was a vendor cart fire that “has nothing to do” with the White House.
The lockdown ended shortly after 11 a.m., with Obama traveling by motorcade to Andrews Air Force Base for his departure to Selma, according to a pool report.
Obama and the first family are traveling to Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote.