The Milwaukee Fire Department is estimating $13 million in structural damages to downtown Milwaukee's Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. An additonal $4 million worth of the church's contents were also destroyed Tuesday.
Deputy Fire Chief Dave Votsis said Wednesday heating tools placed on nearby scaffolding may have ingnited the roof.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that a condemnation case was filed with the city, suggesting that the church, one of Milwaukee's oldest, may need to be razed.
Votsis said the building was not structurally sound. One of the church's steeples collapsed Tuesday during the four-alarm fire.
Original story, Tuesday, May 15:
More than 50 firefighters went to work Tuesday afternoon on a fire at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee.
The Victorian Gothic style church dates back to 1878. The structure was declared a Milwaukee landmark in the 1960s, and became a State Historical Landmark and was listed as on the National Register of Historic Places in the '70s.
Brian Smith, assistant chief of operations for the Milwaukee Fire Department, says the department was notified of a fire on the roof of the church at 3:45 pm. He says it's too early to tell where the fire started.
The historic building sits near the corner of W. Highland Ave. and N. 9th St. near the Milwaukee Jail, the Milwaukee Courthouse Complex and Milwaukee Area Technical College's downtown campus.
Smith says the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and that there are no injuries to report nor were any nearby businesses affected or in need of evacuation.
There was construction being done on the exterior of church, but Smith says all of the workers are accounted for.
He shared that, according the pastor of the church, the building was undergoing renovations relatively recently, so the age of the building is not a concern for the cause of the fire at this time.
Here's what others are saying about the blaze on Twitter:
Trinity Church on fire in Milwaukee. The steeple just collapsed. pic.twitter.com/8FebRH8JtZ
— Meg Jones (@MegJonesJS) May 15, 2018
Trinity Lutheran Church downtown Mke. I Pray everyone got out! pic.twitter.com/co9RFZEjll
— Bill Berdan Jr. (@therealbmgccCM) May 15, 2018
Pastor Hunter Hofmann of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church told WISN 12 News he saw the flames and called 911.
He said there was construction work being done on the roof. pic.twitter.com/l5CwY5K5cx
— WISN 12 NEWS (@WISN12News) May 15, 2018
"It's just sad. The more it burns, the more it hurts," said Elizabeth, who was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church downtown in 1979. A fire burned down most of it.
Gallery: https://t.co/lzEAXydIws pic.twitter.com/ubmXszsh1o
— 620wtmj (@620wtmj) May 15, 2018
Heavy damage from fire at historic Trinity church on W. State St. pic.twitter.com/FiwCYclVl8
— James B. Nelson (@jamesbnelson) May 15, 2018