UPDATE: Investigation into church fire wraps up - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Investigation into church fire wraps up

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Dunn County (WQOW) - The Dunn County Sheriff's Office has wrapped up its investigation into a church fire.

An explosion and fire destroyed St. John's Lutheran Church near Colfax on Saturday night.  A county fire investigator says they worked with the Wisconsin State Fire Marshal's Office.  Investigators say the gas explosion happened in the basement, but they don't believe it was linked to any appliance.  There were two water heaters and both were found intact.

The last people in the church were members of the congregation about six hours before the explosion.  They could smell something when they were there, but checked all of the appliances and everything appeared to be working properly.  Investigators say there's nothing suspicious or criminal about what happened.

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Dunn County (WQOW) - Members of a local congregation say they're devastated at the loss of their church, which was nearly a century old, after it burned to the ground Saturday night outside Colfax.

The fire started around 9:00 PM at the Saint John's Lutheran Church off County Highway W. It took several fire departments hours to control the flames. The church's pastor says they held services at a nearby church in Ridgeland Sunday morning, but he isn't sure what they do will moving forward.

"I know some of the members are quite devastated, the church would have been 100 years old next year. And so there's a lot of history here, a lot of the families are still in the area, or the family is in the cemetery here. So they feel like they're a little bit without a home right now," said John Toppe, Pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church.

The Dunn County Sheriff's Department says there were no injuries or any sign of foul play. They say the fire started as the result of a gas explosion, but the cause is still under investigation.

 

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Press Release from the Colfax Fire Department: Colfax Fire Department was paged for a fully involved structure fire at St. John's Lutheran Church on Highway W in the Town of Grant around 9 p.m. Saturday, January 12th. Upon arrival the MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Assistant System) was activated. Assistance was requested from Boyceville Fire, Ridgeland Fire, Colfax EMS, Elk Mound Fire, Sand Creek Fire, Menomonie Fire and Prairie Farm Fire.
Fire Departments assisted with additional manpower, tenders and river pumps. Due to cold weather and safety, firefighters were rotated through. Firefighters were on scene through the morning watching for flare ups and hotspots. Town of Grant assisted with sanding roads, and Dunn County Sheriff's Department assisted with traffic control. At this time the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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