Four Alarm Fire Consumes Historic Church

The 1878 Trinity Lutheran Church was destroyed today in a spectacular four-alarm fire. The church, in downtown Milwaukee, was constructed with cream city brick and Illinois limestone, both darkened with a patina of dirt and soot. It was also home to a historic Schuelke pipe organ that likely did not survive the fire.

The fire was reported just before 4:00 PM and quickly escalated to a fourth alarm. A plume of black smoke could be seen for miles. Wind from the east blew smoke over I-43 a block to the west of the church, causing several miles of traffic backups. Over 100 firefighters were able to bring the fire under control not long after 5:00 PM. One steeple collapsed into the church. The tower clock continued to keep time until the power was cut at 4:27 PM.

Aerial View May 15, 2018
Photo by Fox6Now News (Link Below)

The church is surrounded by industry, a former brewery being redeveloped, a technical college and a new arena under construction. Few of the homes that belonged to parishioners who built the church are extant. The church has an active congregation that is in disbelief over the destruction of the church.

Jim McCabe, founder of the Milwaukee Brewing Company which is across the street. Mr. McCabe took these photos of the fire.

MFD Continues Pouring in Water
Trinity Fire Photo by Jim McCabe.

Firre Starts approx. 4:00 PM May 15, 2018
Trinity Fire Photo by Jim McCabe.

Church is Fully Involved
Trinity Fire Photo by Jim McCabe.

After Roof Collapse
Trinity Fire Photo by Jim McCabe.

Firefighters battle 4-alarm blaze at historic church in downtown Milwaukee Fox6Now News, Milwaukee.

EDITED TO ADD: Fox6 followed up on the fire today (May 16) saying that several artifacts were rescued from the church, including the cross that came from Germany with the first members of the congregation. Pastor of church blocks from 4-alarm blaze: ‘Any of these churches are a spark away from fire’ posted by Ben Handelman. Other stories are linked at the end of that piece.

Comments  (1)

Four Alarm Fire Consumes Historic Church
Posted May 16, 2018, by J.R. Manning

Initial estimates of damage to the church is $17 million. The congregation has announced the intention to rebuild.

It has also been confirmed that the historic Schuelke pipe organ was completely destroyed.

Scam artists have already swung into action, with several fraudulent "go fund me pages" already online. If you feel the desire to help, the church asks that you do not make any donations to any go fund me page as none of them are affiliated with the church.

See addendum to the initial article for links to follow up stories.

The City of Steeples has suffered a tremendous loss.