From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Fire, water damage New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Date Tue, 18 Dec 2001 14:36:58 -0500 (EST)


Fire, water damage New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine

     (ENS) A fire which broke out Tuesday morning, December 18 at the Cathedral 
of St. John the Divine in New York was brought under control after as many as 200 
firemen battled it for 2 1/2 hours. No one was injured, and the cause of the fire 
was not known. The fire began around 6:42 a.m.  

     "The fire was more or less contained to the gift shop," said Michael 
Sellers, editor of the Episcopal New Yorker. "The entire roof of the gift shop is 
gone. There appears to be some fire damage to the outside of the cathedral on the 
north side, directly above the gift shop."

     Sellers said there is severe water damage to the cathedral itself, including 
water in the basement. "They are very concerned about the tapestries on the north 
wall, and about the columbarium. At first glance, the organ appears to be in good 
shape," he said.

     Sellers reported that fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen said it is likely 
the fire started overnight, based on its extent by the time firefighters had 
arrived. The homeless shelter in the cathedral was evacuated.

     The only event canceled at the cathedral was the 8:30 a.m. Eucharist, said 
Neva Rae Fox, director of communications for the Diocese of New York. She said 
the school located near the cathedral on Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street had not 
been damaged. A recorded message said the school was closed as a result of the 

     "As far as our Christmas schedule, we need to figure out where we are and 
what the damage is," Fox said, explaining that a variety of choruses and services 
are scheduled over the next week. "That decision will probably be made later on 

     Construction on the medieval-style Episcopal cathedral began in the late 
19th century and renovation of the facility has been ongoing since.

For more information and frequent updates, go to

Photos of the fire are available at:

--The Associated Press, Newsday and contributed to this report.

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