A fire struck the celebrity-magnet St. Ignatius Loyola church on the Upper East Side yesterday, disrupting the wedding of newsman Mike Wallace's grandson with a haze of smoke.
The blaze forced guests to evacuate the Park Avenue landmark, which has hosted its share of high-profile events, notably the funeral services for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the R & B singer Aaliyah.
"We did the prudent thing; you don't want to take a chance," said facilities manager Sona Olson, who explained that an air conditioner motor in the attic had burned out, filling the church with smoke.
Guests already seated for the 3:30 wedding of the "60 Minutes" journalist's grandson Peter Farrell Wallace, 29, an investment banker, and Jennifer Marie Breheny, 32, an associate producer on the long-running CBS news magazine.
They were evacuated for about half an hour. There was no damage to the famous church.
The bridegroom used the delay to pose for photos on a fire truck, holding an ax and wearing a helmet.
"We like to give our guests a good show," the 86-year-old Wallace said.
The groom's brother, best man Andrew Wallace, 17, of Washington, D.C., said the incident "loosened everyone up. And you couldn't say the groom got cold feet. And she was a smokin' bride."
The Wallaces introduced the couple about three years ago.
"She's a superb girl," Wallace said of the bride, who works with his colleague Morley Safer. "And Peter married up."