A Smithsonian representative said there was a fire at about 7:30 a.m. in a mechanical building in the parking lot on the left-hand side of the Natural History Museum. Welders were doing work in the area, and a spark may have started the blaze. It was quickly extinguished.
The Smithsonian said that the fire happened in an area that houses the heating and air conditioning systems. Those units are kept separate in order to protect the museum in case of a fire.
The building was not open at the time of the fire, but employees who were inside were evacuated. No injuries were reported.
The museum was not damaged by the fire. The museum opened to the public just after it's normal 10 a.m. start time.