By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Sean Casey is the kind of guy who apologizes to one of his neighbors for their clothes smelling like smoke as he stands in the driveway across from his residence watching flames shoot from the roof after his home was struck by lightning.
A good guy that has been through his share of bad luck.
The logistics broker had just returned home from two morning meetings and was working from his Savanna Trail residence just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon when he heard a loud “boom” during a passing thunderstorm.
“It hit me square,” Casey said. “I just about came up out of my seat.”
Casey said his electronics stopped working, so he attempted to reconnect the router for his computer and get it up and running again. He then walked outside and said he saw what he described as “fog” in the front of his house.
“I didn’t see any (smoke) in back, so I knew right away my house was on fire,” Casey said. “I hit the fire alarm and called 911. Luckily, I was home when it happened.”
He then was able to get his dog out of the house, and was also able to move his truck and motorcycle. As the first firefighters and deputy began arriving on scene, flames could already be seen from the roof.
“For an all-volunteer fire department, they were here fast,” Casey said. Along with Delano, crews from Montrose and Watertown provided mutual aid, and Ridgeview Ambulance, Delano Municipal Utilities, and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office were also on scene.
“It was up in the attic area, so it’s tougher to get at it to start out,” said Delano Fire Chief Bob Van Lith, adding that fortunately the firefighters were able to knock down the fire quickly and stop it from spreading.
Casey and his wife, Nicole “Niki” (Torfin) Casey, began building the home in 2006, when she was tragically killed April 9, 2006 in a traffic accident. The home was about half complete at the time, Sean said.
Niki was going back to Sunday school to pick up her daughter when she was involved in a traffic accident at Highway 12 and Wright County Road 30 and died, Sean explained. Following the funeral, his home builder offered to help Sean stop the construction if he wanted.
“I thought it would be a fresh start, so I continued to build the home and kept going with it,” Sean said. He, along with his black Lab, Michelob, have lived in the house since its completion in 2006.
He has been a logistics broker since 2002, and also has a lake place on Howard Lake, where he said he’ll likely take up residence until he figures out what to do with his Delano home.
“What can you do?” Sean said, keeping a positive outlook. “Now that lightning struck, maybe I should go out and buy a Powerball ticket.”
Van Lith said the department was on scene a little over three hours, and said it’s been a few years since the department has dealt with a lightning strike.