Subj: Fire Rages in Landmark New York Cathedral
Date: 12/18/01 7:39:29 AM Pacific Standard Time

December 18 9:40 AM ET

Fire Rages in Landmark New York Cathedral

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A fierce fire raged through New York's
St. John the Divine cathedral, one of the world's largest,
early on Tuesday morning but there were no reports of

"It broke out in the gift shop. It's very serious. But
that's all I know right now," New York Fire Commissioner
Thomas Von Essen told Reuters. About 200 firefighters and 48
units were fighting the raging blaze.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

"We have no reported injuries so far," Von Essen said.

Smoke filled the entire church and was billowing out of the
massive front doors of the Episcopal cathedral, which is
expected to be the world's largest when it is finished.
Parts of the cathedral's roof were also in flames.

"The first alarm came in at 6:42 a.m. and we were here three
or four minutes later," said firefighter Gary Grillo, with
Engine Company 37. Officials described the fire as a "five
alarm" blaze, the most serious category of fire.

The fire is in the general vicinity of the huge wooden pipe
organ but the condition of the organ was unknown.

The gift shop is housed in an unfinished structure and
firefighters expressed concern about its stability.

Construction of the cathedral, located at 112th Street in
Manhattan's upper west side, began in 1892 and it is still
being built.

The cathedral is about two-thirds complete. The American
Institute of Architects says that "were St. John the Divine
to be completed, it would be the world's largest cathedral."

Nicholas Hurwitz, 12, a student at the Cathedral School next
door to the church, said, "This place is so meaningful to
me. I've been running around here and growing up here since
I was born. I was baptized here."