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Posted at 3:02 PM ET, 11/ 9/2010

Fire alarm closes USDA headquarters

By Ed O'Keefe

Part of the U.S. Agriculture Department's headquarters closed at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday due to issues with the fire alarm system, according to an e-mail sent to workers.

USDA evacuated workers in the South Building, one of three structures that comprise the department's headquarters between along Independence Ave. SW, just south of the Mall.
Employees in the Whitten and Yates Buildings were told to stay at the office.

"This is not an Emergency," the e-mail said. Officials urged workers to check USDA's Please check and monitor its internal USDA BePrepared blog for updates.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 9, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
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There's so much asbestos in that old USDA building, there's no need for an alarm system.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 9, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

This is so vague and confusing, it brings to mind the apparent missile firing off the west coast. What the heck is going on? The USDA "BePrepared " website mentioned appears to say nothing whatever about this yet (after 4:30 PM Tuesday).

Posted by: citizenw | November 9, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I work there. Security told me the wing I work in was "locked down." Then, shortly after that they announce the closure of the bldg due to a fire alarm system mishap?? Either we're getting bogus info from USDA management, Vilsack jumped the gun again without due diligence, or both.

Posted by: rpcv84 | November 9, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

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