"What happened is the air intake unit was malfunctioning and that caused the smoke," Secret Service spokeswoman Ann Roman said. "There was no evacuation."
Smoke filled several areas of the West Wing, including the White House briefing room, cubicles used by the press and offices occupied by the Bush administration's communications officials. Television cameramen stationed in the briefing room at the time said the smoke smelled like burning wires, but Roman said there was no fire.
She said the problem occurred in the basement near the press lobby. Members of the media and a smoke detector alarm that sounded at 10:22 a.m. EDT alerted White House personnel to the problem. Doors were opened and fans were set up to ventilate the area. Within an hour or so, the smoke and odor had dissipated.