Bill and Carrie Pendergast lost nearly everything in the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfires. They managed to save their animals — a cat, dog and birds — some photos and a handful of clothing, but their home was flattened by the fires.

“The whole entire place looked like a war zone,” said Carrie. “It was very difficult until the flowers started to pop up through it, which was a sign of hope.”

Now the couple is cashing in on some of that hope in the form of a $1-million Atlantic Lottery cheque.

“It doesn’t seem real still. It’s very difficult to believe,” said Carrie in an interview with CTV News Channel Monday.

While visiting his ailing father in a Newfoundland hospital, Bill decided on a whim to buy a lottery ticket while picking up a soft drink for his dad.

“I’m sure glad I stopped and got him his 7 Up,” he said.

When he learned he’d purchased the winning ticket, he texted his wife Carrie a picture of the tickets, joking that he could buy mufflers for his car with the money. Since Bill has a reputation for being mischievous, Carrie didn’t even believe him at first.

“No, it wasn’t Photoshopped,” he joked.

“He’s quite a prankster, so I really thought it was a joke,” Carrie said. “Quite a shock.”

Though some of the money might go towards Bill’s car, most of the cash will probably be used to rebuild their Fort McMurray home. With just a few months left in the construction, the lottery winnings are a nice bonus, the couple said.

“This changes everything,” said Bill. “It’s a heavy weight gone off your shoulders for sure.”

Watch the couple’s interview with CTV News Channel’s Scott Laurie above.