Image: Smoke over the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History
J. Scott Applewhite  /  AP
Smoke dissipates over the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington on Monday after a fire in a detached building containing the museum's cooling tower. staff and news service reports
updated 2/7/2011 10:07:49 AM ET 2011-02-07T15:07:49

A fire broke out at a building near the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, emitting a plume of black smoke and closing area streets, officials said Monday.

Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas says a building detached from the museum that contains the facility's cooling tower caught fire early Monday.

D.C. Deputy Fire Chief Ken Crosswhite said the fire did not pose any risk to the museum and has been brought under control. No injuries were reported.

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Special operations and hazmat units reported to the scene and personnel evacuated the building, D.C. Fire and EMS said in a post to Twitter.

The microblogging site was abuzz with reports of smoke over the National Mall, where the museum is located; user photos showed the plume overhead.

The call reporting the fire came in around 7:45 a.m. ET, The Washington Post reported. The museum's regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The museum is located on 10th Street at Constitution Avenue. Authorities closed the 9th Street tunnel and fully or partially blocked several streets in the area, Washington NBC station WRC-TV reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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