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In rubble of Trinity Lutheran Church fire, history survives

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - The task of cleaning up after the devastating Trinity Lutheran Church fire started Wednesday.

It meant digging through what was lost, but also finding surprising items that survived.

“Actually we were kind of surprised,” said Reverend Jonah Burakowski when asked about what items were not destroyed in the fire.

“The first place that everybody went was obviously the sanctuary,” said Rev. Burakowski.

He entered the charred remains of the church only to find not everything was gone.

“The original crucifix that was brought over from Germany was on the altar table still,” said the Reverend, “the altar table other than a little bit of wood falling on top of it was still there.”

Other items near the altar also survived, along with most of the pews. But one of the most surprising things to survive was artwork of Jesus Christ.

“Three big art pieces,” said Rev. Burakowski, “it was presumed they would all be gone, nope.”

“There was a lot of comfort in that last night,” said longtime church member Christian Himsel.

He came down to the church to see the damage when he spotted the artwork.

“As I came over this way and the door was open, despite everything else, in through the open door, there is Christ, that is comforting,” said Himsel.

The fire stopped the tower clocks, but time marches on and the items recovered from the rubble, gives the church something to build on.

“Part of the connection there is that it’s something that will be passed to the next generation so that as parents and grandparents tell their children and grandchildren what happened, they can say look we rebuilt,” said Rev. Burakowski

After being allowed inside early Wednesday, everyone was pulled out, including cleaning crews.

The city inspector is concerned about structural problems so for now, no one is allowed inside.

Reverend Burakowski says he’d like to see the church stay where it is, but it could be up to a year before anything reopens.

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