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White House offices reopened after brief evacuation

File Photo - The White House walkway along the West Wing is cleared of fresh snow which fell overnight in the Washington region January 24,
File Photo - The White House walkway along the West Wing is cleared of fresh snow which fell overnight in the Washington region January 24,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House offices were evacuated briefly on Saturday when an electrical transformer near the West Wing malfunctioned and set off a smoke alarm, a White House official said. A Secret Service official said President Barack Obama had not been in the area at the time.

"The transformer problem was quickly resolved. Electricity and personnel access to the West Wing has returned to normal. The First Family was unaffected," the White House official said in an emailed statement.

Firefighters responded and staff were evacuated briefly, the Secret Service official said. "That's typical that we would ask everyone to step out," he said.

First reports of the evacuation came at about 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT).

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Jackie Frank and Mohammad Zargham)

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