MANITOWISH WATERS - Heavy, gray smoke poured out of Kay Lackas's home in Manitowish Waters on Wednesday morning while firefighters rushed in, keeping her in a daze.
"I feel like that smoke, foggy," Lackas said.
Lackas was sleeping inside around 8:20 a.m. when she heard a loud bang of thunder, but she didn't think much of it until she smelled smoke.
"It's a blur," Lackas said. "You think this is going to happen to somebody else and when it happens to you, you just don't know what to think."
Lackas grabbed her two dogs, her cellphone, and ran to the neighbor's to call 911. Soon, fire crews from Manitowish Waters and at least four other departments sprayed water, smashed windows, and cut walls at the home on Lavigne Road, hoping to knock the fire down.
Kay's husband, Bob, was on a fishing trip on the Upper Peninsula border when she called him just before 9 a.m.
"Our life is going to change dramatically, to say the least," Bob said.
The Lackases planned to sell their home, which they've owned for 15 years. Bob says they just rejected an offer that was too low about three weeks ago.
"I don't know what we're going to sell it as [now]," Kay said.
"I'm sure over the course of the next month I'm going to be pulling my hair out with what needs to be done to get your life back to normal, but again, it is what it is and I just learn to go with the flow," Bob said.
Smoke poured out of the roof most of the morning, then sparked back up in the basement, where Bob had a finished rec room, which he called his "man cave." He expects the house to be a total loss, but three neighbors already offered their homes to stay in.
"People are wonderful, which you expect it to be, but you don't take it for granted," Bob said.
Family heirlooms--like Kay's mother's rings and the couple's clothing--might not escape the fire, but Bob is just thankful his family is safe.
"Let the chips fall where they may," Bob said. "Things will work out."
The Vilas County Sheriff's Office confirmed via a press release late Wednesday that a lighting strike was likely the cause. The fire started in the basement, then spread quickly.
Fire crews from Manitowish Waters, Winchester, Boulder Junction, Lac du Flambeau, Arbor Vitae, and Hurley all responded. The Vilas County Sheriff's Office, Vilas County Emergency Management, and Manitowish Waters Ambulance also helped.