December 4, 2005
Waukesha Firefighters received an alarm of a structure fire at 413 Wisconsin Ave. This address is the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ. This is a typical stone-and-brick church built in 1891 and approximate size is 10, 000 square feet. The church did not have fire alarm/detection system.
Waukesha firefighters arrived on location at 10:16 to find the church entirely charged with heavy smoke, making it difficult to locate the seat of the fire. Battalion Chief Vitale completed a 360 of the building a proceeded to assign incoming units. In a short time, all firefighters on scene have been assigned and Battalion Chief Vitale transmitted a working fire at 10:20. At 10:23 Battalion Chief Vitale called for a Second alarm. WFD call back personnel reported with reserve apparatus and received assignments. At 10:30, Battalion Chief Vitale ordered all firefighters to evacuate the building and went to defensive operation. At 10:51 Battalion Chief Vitale called the 3rdalarm, which brought in neighboring firefighters to assist and cover additional calls. Battalion Chief Vitale declared the fire under control at 2:53 on December 5. Waukesha firefighting crews remained on the scene for the remainder of the week.
Forty Waukesha Fire Fighters, along with 20 mutual aid Fire Fighters used four engines and two ladder trucks to fight this fire.
A very through investigation by multiple agency found the cause of the fire to center around candles burning near an advent wreath in the sanctuary. Damage estimated at $3.8 million to the structure and $400,000 to the contents. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries as a result of the icy condition that night. The weather condition that night was extremely cold (7 degrees F).