Steeple collapses during fire at historic church in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WITI) -- Firefighters battled a massive, four-alarm fire at at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee Tuesday, May 15.

According to NBC15's partner station, WITI, a parishioner said there were repairs being made to the roof of the church. No injuries were reported.

"Everyone is accounted for at this time," said Brian Smith with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

Smith said there were about 85 personnel on scene battling the fire.

"It required us to call in extra equipment. With a church of this size -- required a lot of aerial ladder trucks...with water towers aiming toward the building to put the fire out," said Smith.

A steeple collapsed during the fire. Smith noted Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is a "historical landmark." He said there was a fire last year.

"We did have one when they were remodeling this building right there -- it did go to a third alarm. I did talk to (the City of Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services) who handled building inspection and spoke to the pastor of the church -- so the church is fully remodeled three or four years ago. Whenever you have a large wooden structure and fire, that's always a concern," said Smith.

Smith said it's too early to say where the fire started. He said the initial call was for a fire on the roof at 3:45 p.m.

Smith said firefighters weren't going inside "for safety and the fear of collapse."

"We're gonna fight this fire from the exterior before we even attempt to get in the building," said Smith.

There was no damage to any other buildings, and no other businesses had to be shut down, but fire personnel were stationed at some surrounding businesses out of precaution.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated State Historic Site. The building was declared a Milwaukee landmark in 1967, a State Historical Landmark in 1979 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

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