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Archbishop Timothy Dolan Watches as St. James Church Burns

By DNAinfo Staff on January 10, 2011 1:36pm  | Updated on January 10, 2011 2:49pm

By Ben Fractenberg and Olivia Scheck

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

CHINATOWN — New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan watched as firefighters battled a blaze inside Chinatown's St. James Church Monday afternoon.

The fire began shortly after noon and was not brought under control for an hour and a half, though there were no injuries as the building was empty at the time, according to FDNY officials.

"Thank God nobody was hurt," the Archbishop remarked outside the church, which is located on James Street between St. James Place and Madison Street.

"It's a particularly historic church," he said.

The extent of the damage to the church was not yet known, but was mostly the result of water used to put out the flames, Deputy Chief Mullins, of Downtown's Division One, said.

The church would likely have to cancel services for the rest of the week, a church employee said.

The fire, which appeared to be electrical, broke out between the ceiling and the roof making it difficult for firefighters to reach the area, Mullins said.

Firefighters were seen tossing charred material down to the lower level of the building.

Twenty-five units and 106 firefighters had responded to the blaze by 12:36 p.m., when a second alarm was called, the FDNY said.

Surrounding blocks, including James Street and St. James Place between Madison and Oliver Streets were closed to traffic.