It has been three and a half weeks now since a fire destroyed the home of News & Journal sports editor Bill Nestor and his family who reside in Morgantown. An incident of this proportion is devastating at any time, but perhaps even moreso when it occurs just two weeks prior to Christmas!
Bill describes it as an eye-opening experience. “All I can say is that I have been very humbled by what happened to us. We have been more than overwhelmed by the support we have received,” Bill said tearfully.
He said it is sometimes strange how things happen. He calls his wife a ‘sound sleeper’; but he, in contrast, is up and down several times throughout the night. This particular morning he had been up and returned to bed to find his wife awake and conversational at 6 a.m.! As they talked, his wife Jennifer asked if it was raining because she kept hearing a sound outside. When he got up to look out their bedroom window to check on the noise, he discovered the sound was the crackling of flames that engulfed the deck outside their bedroom window.
“I got up, donned my flip flops and headed out to try to extinguish the fire myself, and at one point I thought I had it under control and put out,” he recalled.
Calling on a neighbor for some help, however, he returned to find that flames had ignited again and were out of control. Four fire departments answered the call and firefighters later told him it was the hottest fire they had ever experienced! Bill reports that the extreme heat even affected the siding on a couple of nearby homes.
“We had immediate and amazing help from our friends and neighbors,” Bill stated.
Two neighbors, Tom and Wendy Bloom, were extremely helpful, getting on the phone at once to try to make arrangements for temporary housing. As it happens, a home in their development was vacated and for sale, and the owner was willing to rent it to them temporarily.
“We were blessed that the owner was willing to do this. And because the home is still being shown to prospective buyers, we try to maintain it well so that it is in good viewing condition. We have vacated our temporary home several times already so the property can be shown. But we are not complaining … we just feel so fortunate that we were able to stay in the same neighborhood while this is all being resolved,” Bill explained.
Another caring neighbor, Stacie Renzella Redelman, made phone calls promptly and set up a www.gofundme account for the Nestors so that anyone wanting to make donations could do so easily.
Jennifer Nestor is a nurse who now works in management at Preston Memorial Hospital; Bill is a health inspector for Harrison County. Together, they have three children – Reese Nestor, 18, who is a freshman at WVU; Madison Walls, 15; and Morgan Walls, 12. Only one of the girls was home at the time of the fire.
“Yes, we suffered a great loss,” Bill added. “But no one was hurt; only our pet hamsters didn’t make it. And we were able to salvage just a few things; otherwise, it was a total loss. BUT, we still feel fortunate. And I was certainly shown that we are not in control of things. I think this is God’s way of telling us to have faith that things will work out.”
Bill’s attitude is certainly one to be admired. He says that it is important to keep a positive attitude – especially for the sake of their children.
“We have a choice – to look at our glass as half empty or half full. We all escaped unharmed and our ‘things’ can be replaced. We’re very thankful that no one was hurt and that is the message we choose to impart to our kids,” he continued.
Bill noted that he had always been someone who enjoyed doing things for other people. “I have taught and coached previously, and along with my job now, I continue to do sports broadcasting and write for the News & Journal,” he said. “I’ve had other opportunities, but I like doing what I do and I like a ‘family’ environment. And now, I appreciate even more fully how much it means to do caring things for others …. because folks have surely been so giving to us. It has been very humbling.”
Bill believes in commitment. Case in point ….. At 6 a.m. on Saturday, December 12th, Bill was helping to fight the fire at his home. That same afternoon, he showered and tried to remove the smoke odor from his hair, and by 4 p.m., he showed up for a scheduled sports broadcast in Fairmont! And the next evening, he sat in a hotel room preparing his submissions for the News & Journal’s sports page. Instead of licking his wounds or feeling sorry for himself as many might have done, he felt an obligation to carry out his responsibilities.
“Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now. The house we are calling ‘home’ right now could very well sell, and we may have to move again,” he said. “That is not uncommon, I understand, when families deal with issues like this. But we’re fine with it. We’ll rebuild when things get worked out, and it could have been lots worse. So we’re staying positive and so very thankful for the support we have received from friends, neighbors and even strangers.”
Although 2015 came to an end on a sad note, the Nestor family still feels blessed and they are looking forward – not backward – in 2016.