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The remains of a breaker box behind Cabin 4 that was reportedly blasted by a bolt of lightning.
The remains of a breaker box behind Cabin 4 that was reportedly blasted by a bolt of lightning.
Families at Osakis resort survive lightning strike
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news Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Summer vacations are supposed to be memorable.

Well, the Kraus, Brandt and Hiller families have a particularly striking memory to take away from their summer vacation on Smith Lake.

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In the midst of the thunderstorm that ripped through the area on August 1, the family survived a lightning strike.

Donald "Skinny" and Jane Kraus of St. Peter were in Cabin 5 at Smith Lake Resort when the bolt of lightning struck their cabin.

Jane, Skinny and their grandson, Jack Hiller, and Jack's friend, John Monroe, were all asleep in the cabin when the strike hit.

"We heard this big 'boom' and Skinny said, 'I think that hit somewhere close.' We didn't know at first that it was our cabin," Jane said.

The Kraus' daughter, Stacie Hiller, was next door in Cabin 6 and when she looked out, she said she saw smoke coming from her parents' cabin.

Jane said, "She came over and told us all to get out." Stacie called 911.

Everyone got out, but Skinny went back in and put out the smoldering area of the cabin with an extinguisher.

Osakis Fire Department responded to the cabin fire call.

Osakis Fire Chief Mark Pomerleau said in the Kraus's cabin, an electrical cord wrapped around a propane line was burning. The lightning not only burned the cord, but also burned a pinhole in the gas line, Pomerleau said.

"One of the people staying at the cabin hit it with an extinguisher; there was no fire, but gas was leaking," the chief said. "Lightning does wild things."

"The fire department was here in no time," Jane said. "They stayed and inspected everything and did a good job."

Another family member, Kris Hiller, added, "The fire department was excellent. They were here immediately, in a matter of minutes, I think they deserve credit for that."

Meanwhile, Jim and Barb Brandt, of LeCentre, were next door in Cabin 4 when the lightning struck.

"Jim said he saw sparks in the back of our cabin," Barb said. "That's when we knew it was time to get out."

When they looked behind the cabin, Barb said a breaker box had been burned and blown off a nearby light pole.

There's also a small crack in the siding where they believe lightning also struck Cabin 4 - right below the window where the Brandts' friends, Dave and Julie Bosacker, were sleeping.

Tom and Linda Mulder have owned Smith Lake Resort for 26 years and after things had settled down a bit at the resort, Tom told the Osakis Review, "We're lucky we still have two cabins standing and they didn't burn down."

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the vacation-rattling lightning strike.

Fortunately, two other resort cabins were open for the Kraus and Brandt families to move to and continue their vacation. The families have vacationed at Smith Lake Resort for the last 30 years.

On Wednesday, everyone was casually hanging out at a picnic table after a morning of fishing.

When asked if the lightning strike had changed the way they look at things, Jim said, "I think we're gonna buy more life insurance." The family erupted with laughter.

"Everybody's happy and fishing again," Jane said, "even if the fishing hasn't been worth a toot. We're here until Saturday like we planned."

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