Smoke forces Wisconsin Capitol evacuation

Authorities evacuated the Wisconsin state Capitol building on Tuesday after fire alarms went off moments before a state Senate floor session was scheduled to begin.

The smoke was caused by a malfunctioning air handler and the Madison Fire Department was investigating, said Olivia Hwang, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration. The building reopened about 15 minutes after fire alarms sounded.

Reporters in the Capitol's press room, located on the second floor between the Senate and Assembly chambers, noticed a smell in the room similar to burnt rubber about 20 minutes before the 11 a.m. Senate session was set to begin. Moments later the media room filled with smoke and the building's fire alarms went off.

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The Senate delayed its start by 30 minutes following the building's brief evacuation.

Tuesday was scheduled to be a busy day in the Capitol, with both the Senate and Assembly in session and Gov. Tony Evers delivering his State of the State speech in the Assembly chamber at night.

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