<!--:es-->Fire damages Cheney’s ceremonial office<!--:-->

Fire damages Cheney’s ceremonial office

WASHINGTON – A fire damaged Vice President Dick Cheney’s ceremonial office in a building overlooking the White House on Wednesday and forced hundreds of government workers to evacuate.

Cheney was in the White House with President George W. Bush receiving their morning intelligence briefings when the blaze began and people were evacuated from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building safely, White House officials said.

Thick black smoke billowed from the second floor of the hulking granite structure, which is part of the White House compound and faces the West Wing of the presidential mansion.

Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control. “Everyone’s been evacuated safely,” White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. “There were no injuries that we know of.”

There were no evacuations from the White House itself.

Bush and Cheney later emerged and thanked firefighters beside a ladder truck on the driveway outside the West Wing.

The fire broke out near Cheney’s suite of ceremonial offices, which he uses for staff meetings and talks with visiting dignitaries and large groups.

Flames did not reach Cheney’s office but it sustained smoke and water damage, according to his spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell. He usually works inside the White House itself

Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter said smoke was coming from telephone or electrical equipment, but the cause of the fire was not yet known. There was no indication of terrorism.

There have been numerous security scares since Washington was targeted in the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks.

The EEOB, a granite, slate and cast-iron structure, was built between 1871 and 1888. It also houses offices of the National Security Council and the Office of Management and Budget as well as some senior advisers.