UPDATE: A close call for family next to burnt church

Courtesy: Kristine Lucey Springer-Pauley‎

UPDATED: Sunday, November 15, 2015 --- 3:00 p.m.

SPRING GREEN, Wis. -- It's Sunday morning, and Luke Castonguay is among the Cornerstone congregation members headed to service at a neighboring church. But early Saturday morning, Castonguay and his family were fast asleep, while the Cornerstone Church was on fire.

"I heard Cody shouting the church is on fire, and we needed to get out and at which point that kind of galvanized me to action," said Castonguay.

The Castonguays stay at the parsonage next to the historic church. He says it didn't even register who the shouting stranger was.

"My wife Rachel woke up when he started shouting and she went to get the kids immediately and then Cody grabbed one of the kids, she got the other," explained Castonguay.

That stranger, turned out to be Cody Gunderson. It was their first time meeting. Gunderson is a volunteer firefighter, who happened to be walking home at the time.

"We saw a bunch of smoke, and one of my buddies saw fire coming out the windows so he hollered for me, we immediately ran towards the house connected to the church to make sure everyone was out, and we were able to get the family out," said Gunderson in a phone interview.

The church and the parsonage are only a few feet apart, Castonguay says if he found out about the fire ten or 15 minutes later, it would have been too late.

"We have smoke alarms in all the bedrooms but that would've been still another ten minutes before any of then went off, and Cody bought us another 10 minutes," said Castonguay.

With the help of Gunderson, Castonguay was able to join the service today. As for the congregation, they say when one door closes, another opens.

"Our long term plans, where else would we go? We have this beautiful property in this part of town and we have a purpose here, we have a job to do and so we're going to be about that. Rebuilding, absolutely," said Pastor Derek Miller.


UPDATED Saturday, November 14, 2015 -- 6:00 p.m.

SPRING GREEN, Wis. --- A Wisconsin community is coming together after an early morning fire left an 150 year old church destroyed.

All day Saturday members of the community could be seen paying their respects as they mourn the loss of a place that meant so much to so many.

"Just feel like a part of me has died and I don't know if I can get that back," emotions difficult for Betty Lawver to put into words.

"The memories and everything have gone up in flames you can't replace them."

The Spring Green resident is one of dozens that congregated Saturday, in shock and disbelief.

Firefighters responded to the scene just after 2:00 Saturday morning. When they arrived, the structure was fully engulfed

"Very old historic building and it was sad to see such a fire," Assistant Fire Chief, Mark Baryenbruch, said.

A sense of despair resonating with Tyler Patten. The now Baraboo resident got married in the church five months ago.

"When I was growing up my family went through some hard times and the church was just super supportive of everything was going on and really the church helped raise us kids ," Patten said.

A church that will remain; maybe not structurally for now, but spiritually

"A church is the people that love the Lord and gather around him and that will go on it's not threatened by a fire," Pastor Derek Miller, said.

"Our faith doesn't just work when things are fine our faith works in the fire that's because our faith isn't in what we know but whom we know," Miller's son, Alex, said.

As of Saturday afternoon, fire officials remained on scene investigating the situation. As for the cause, it's still unknown but a church member did tell us they were doing some renovations.

The Sauk County Sheriff's Department and the Department of Criminal Investigation are investigating the fire. The church pastor says they plan to rebuild. For now, the church will meet at neighboring St. John Evangelist Catholic Church at 10:30 Sunday morning.


POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2015 --- 8:17 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. --- The Spring Green Department says the Cornerstone Church is a total loss, following an early morning fire Saturday.

Authorities say someone called 911 to report a fire at the church located at 210 North Lexington Street in the Village of Spring Green around 2:08 a.m.

Officials say that when first responders arrived, the structure was fully-engulfed.

No one was in the church at the time, and the people inside the adjoining parsonage were evacuated safely, according to a press release from the fire department. They say the parsonage was damaged in the fire.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire and say church leaders have worked to relocate those occupying the parsonage. Services will be announced in the near future.