Fire breaks out at basement of Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan  — A fire broke out in the basement of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan Sunday morning.

The blaze broke out at the historic Amsterdam Avenue church around 10:30 a.m.

“I realized the cathedral caught on fire my heart started to break,” said parishioner Steven Livesay.

Maryann Tait was inside the church when it was being evacuated.

“People were confused, but it was very orderly,” she said.

Services for the Blessing of the Palms were scheduled the whole morning. The scheduled 11 a.m. service was moved and held outside the church on the lawn.

“God gave us a nice day and beautiful place to have it, we didn’t plan for this,” Tait said.

As people were praying and singing outside, over 75 firefighters worked to put out a fire inside underneath the cathedral. It was deemed under control around 11 a.m.

Video shows smoke surrounding the church, with firefighters monitoring the area.

“It was in a storage room with artwork,” said FDNY Deputy Chief John Schof. “The problem now is trying to get the smoke out of the main part of the building and the basement.”

There were no injuries, officials said.

This isn't the first time the a fire broke out at the church. In December 2001, the church erupted in flames, shattering stained-glass windows, and gutting the gift shop.

It’s still unclear how the fire and smoke will affect Easter services next Sunday.

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