Home Christian News Pastor Tragically Dies in House Fire Alongside 2 Daughters, 3 Granddaughters

Pastor Tragically Dies in House Fire Alongside 2 Daughters, 3 Granddaughters

Steve Witte
Screengrab via WMTV

A Wisconsin community is mourning the loss of a pastor and five of his family members in a house fire that was sparked in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 30. Pastor Steve Witte reportedly perished trying to rescue his granddaughters from the blaze that engulfed a vacation rental in Juneau County, Wisconsin. 

Witte, ordained through the American Confessional Lutheran denomination, had served as both a pastor in the Green Bay area and as a missionary to Thailand through the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). 

While in Asia, Witte also served as a professor of practical theology and missiology at Asia Lutheran Seminary. He held a Master of Divinity degree from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. 

According to the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office, emergency personnel received a call around 2:35 a.m. on Sunday morning. When firefighters arrived on the scene, the home was engulfed in flames. Six family members, including Witte, were trapped inside. 

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The others trapped in the home were Witte’s adult daughters Lydia Witte and Charis Kuehl and his granddaughters Stella Kuehl, Lena Henselin, and Merci Henselin.

The fire department fought the fire for three hours and remained on the scene for 12 hours. Tragically, none of the six family members survived. 

According to Pastor Larry Schlomer, WELS World Missions Administrator, Witte had initially escaped the inferno but reentered the home when he realized that some of his grandchildren were still inside.

Schlomer told WMTV that Witte had recently returned from a months-long trip overseas. 

“His wife, Mary, his children, those were so important,” Schlomer said. “That’s why they were gathered so they could enjoy some time while he was back from his mission field.”

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Of Witte’s life and legacy, Schlomer said, “His passion for the gospel, for the Good News about hope for eternity, is something that drove him to do everything that he did.”