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Four-alarm fire breaks out at downtown Milwaukee church

Fire breaks out at downtown Milwaukee church
Posted at 4:07 PM, May 15, 2018

A fire has broken out near the corner of 9th and Highland. 

Crews were called out to 1046 N. 9th Street, which is Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

Milwaukee police say Highland Avenue and State Street are shut down, along with 9th and 10th Streets. Police advise drivers to avoid the area. Find an alternate route.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiners office reports it has not been called out to the fire. 

Rev. Dr. John C. Wille, the president of the South Milwaukee District LMCS, released the following statement about the fire. 

We are deeply saddened by the fire that occurred at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee this afternoon. At this time, we are unaware of any injuries and have no knowledge of how the fire started. The steeples at Trinity have been a part of the Milwaukee skyline for over 150 years. Our district mourns the loss of the building, but we give thanks for the gospel message that has been proclaimed there for generations. We give thanks for the brave men and women of the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments who risked their safety in responding to the fire. We lift the congregation and pastors in our prayers.

Deputy Milwaukee Fire Chief Christopher Snyder says the blaze broke out at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Snyder says the pastor reported the fire. Authorities don't know what caused the fire, but Snyder says the fire apparently broke out on the roof, where construction work was going on.

The main fire station is only blocks away from the church, so firefighters were able to respond quickly. About 100 firefighters are on the scene. No injuries are reported.

The church has been a staple in the downtown area for more than a century, according to the church website. It was built in 1878. The building was designed by Fredrick Velguth in the Victorian Gothic style of architecture. 

The building was built our of cream brick, a popular choice in Milwaukee. 

There were three spires, the largest standing at 200 feet tall. The church inside was full of stained glass, sculptures and other works of art. The church also features a 30-foot high pipe organ.

The building was declared a historic Milwaukee landmark in 1967, a state landmark in 1979 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places, also in 1979. 

This is a developing story. Check back often for updates.