The blaze appeared to be located in Vice President Dick Cheney’s suite of ceremonial offices on the second floor of the building. Cheney and President Bush were across the street in the West Wing of the White House when the blaze broke out. It appeared to be under control within an hour.
Secret Service spokesman Darrin Blackford said the Old Executive Office building was evacuated as a precaution. “Everyone has been evacuated safely,” White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said. District of Columbia firefighters poured water on the blaze and moved furniture onto a balcony.
There were no reports of serious injuries, D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. One man broke a fifth-floor window to escape from the smoke and had to be rescued from the ledge, Etter said.
“We want people to rest assured that we have this under control,” he said, adding that investigators were working to determine the cause of the blaze.
The Executive Office Building, a commanding structure with a granite, slate and cast iron exterior at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, houses the Office of Management and Budget and staff of the National Security Council and other agencies.
Originally built for the State, War and Navy Departments between 1871 and 1888, the building was renamed in honor of President Dwight Eisenhower during the Clinton administration.