BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - The Nelson County High School community is rallying around one of its own after a devastating fire.
Boys basketball coach Zach Allender and his two young children lost everything they had after their home caught fire early Saturday on Bloomfield Road.
Seemingly still in shock, the coach was back at work Monday preparing for Tuesday’s Senior Night for the kids he loves. Allender told WAVE 3 News he feels lucky no one was hurt in the fire. The single dad lost everything inside his Bloomfield Road home to smoke and water damage.
"Upstairs was like soot, just covered in black," Allender said. "You have the clothes on your back, and being a single dad with two kids, I was like, 'Man, this is everything I have right here and it's very real. It makes you appreciate everything a lot more, too.'"
With a snow day Friday, Allender was home with his 3-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.
"(The firefighters) think it was possibly started by the wood-burning stove that I have in the living room," Allender said. The coach put out the fire in the stove before his game Friday night, but after talking with firefighters, he said he believes possibly an ember popped, and later smoldered on the floor. By early Saturday, multiple fire crews were there. Luckily, his children were with their mother.
“It’s still hard, but you know, we’re all safe and sound and it’s just the house and it’s just things,” Allender said.
Knowing how much those things mean to every family, his Nelson County High School community got moving.
“It was awful, terrible news,” friend and Nelson County High School Athletic Director Matt Reynolds said.
Reynolds helped lead the charge of the Cardinal Nest, a motto of unity used by the school. Parents and friends began organizing food and clothing drives, not only because their coach’s kids lost everything, but because he has the upcoming Senior Night and the district basketball tournament.
"There's just a lot going on in his world right now," Reynolds said. "And all he needed was a house fire to deal with."
Despite the loss, Allender is realizing just how lucky he is.
"Work family, basketball family ... there's not enough thank yous that I can say to them," Allender said.
While the coach had insurance, it can take a long time to get back on your feet after a fire. Loved ones set up a GoFundMe account under Allender’s name.
The coach’s school family also set up a bank fund at the PNC Bardstown Branch, where the family can access money for clothes and food. Checks can be mailed to the bank at 105 W. John Rowan Boulevard, Bardstown, KY 40004 with the ATTN: Zach Allender Catastrophe Fund.