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Lightning strikes believed to have sparked house fires in Mukwonago and Oconomowoc

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MUKWONAGO/OCONOMOWOC (WITI) -- Thursday's storms sure packed a punch! Perhaps you heard the lightning or thunder early Thursday morning. A couple of local families experienced it firsthand as their homes were struck by lightning in Mukwonago and Oconomowoc.

Preliminary investigations show both homes were struck by lightning in the early morning hours of Thursday,  April 9th. Fire crews were able to knock down the fires but the homes are both total losses.

Thick smoke filled the Mukwonago skies early Thursday morning. Overnight storms brought thunder and lightning and set fire to a home there.

"We still have to investigate it but we're leaning strongly towards a lightning strike to the top of the structure, yes," said Mukwonago Fire Chief Jeff Stien.

Around 5:00 a.m., the homeowner said she heard a large boom and the house shook.

"She saw what she thought was a heavy fog out in front of the house and then she went to the garage and it had the strong smell of smoke so she got out and went to a neighbor's house," said Stien.

Fire crews arrived around 5:40 a.m. and the garage was fully engulfed in flames.

"When it's through the roof already, you have the challenges with all the heavy fuel and such but then we have this light breeze that's out here that definitely pushed it," said Stien.

The flames filled the attic and spread to the rest of the house.

While crews worked on this house, another fire 20 miles north in Oconomowoc had started. Around 6:10 a.m., crews were dispatched to a home on Hancock Court.

When fire crews arrived, the residents were outside of the home but the flames were not. Heavy smoke filled the home. Crews say the high winds made this fire a difficult one to fight.

The main fire was extinguished shortly after their arrival, but crews stayed on scene for four hours, searching for hidden flames. This fire required help from multiple agencies.

It was the same story in Mukwonago where 10 tankers were needed.

"Being in a rural area, we had to transport water out here. We went to a third alarm, which used the tenders also," said Stein.

It took the fire crews about an hour to knock down the fire in Oconomowoc.

No one was injured in either fire.

In the Oconomowoc fire, the chimney was struck by lightning, which traveled all the way to the basement -- causing the chimney chase to burn on the inside and spread fire back up into the attic.

Both families have found alternative living arraignments for the time being.

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