OP community working on rebuilding after largest fire in the history of city

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Thursday marks the one month anniversary of the largest fire in Overland Park history. Now people are working to get demolition or rebuilding plans underway.

The fire started after a welding accident on a construction site at The Royale at City Apartments. The apartments still under construction burned to the ground. The flames spread to nearly 25 homes within Overland Park.

Homeowners work with insurance, some finding it easier than others

The city of Overland Park says most homeowners are in the process of working with their insurance companies to begin with either demolition or rebuilding. However, Sandra Bussell is in a particular difficult situation when it comes to planning this process.

Bussell lived in a duplex before a fire ripped through her home. She says for the insurance to cover her needs they need to know what is happening to the other side of the now burnt out structure.

Overland Park city officials say the duplex next door to Bussell’s is vacant, stating owners died years ago.

The home is now in a reverse mortgage with the lender and the FSA working on the foreclosure process, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Bussell cannot move forward with any work on her half of the duplex until her insurance company knows what is happening to the other half. Not having a clear owner is making the process long and agonizing for Bussel.

"I can't rebuild, I can't get my life back until somebody take ownership and responsibility of the other side so I can continue moving forward which is all I want to do,” said Bussell.

HUD tells 41 Action News they do not know a timeline on when the home would be foreclosed upon.

Overland Park city officials tell me Bussell is not alone in this issue. Other duplex owners are having to work with their neighbors to plan demolition.

The Director of Planning and Development Services in Overland Park, Jack Messer, says they will make it a point to make sure all the structures are eventually taken care of.

"It's not going to do anyone good to have burnt out structures sitting out there for multiple months or years so the city is actively working to make sure that gets restored and we'll undertake all of that process that is necessary to do that,” said Messer.

However Bussell is hoping to speed up the process as quickly as possible, says she is also having a hard time renting everything she owns.

"I worry everyday about the simple things of damaging a couch because it is not mine and paying for it I worry about damaging the rental unit and losing you know people might say it’s a little thing a deposit but to me right now every dollar counts,” said Bussell.

Rebuilding The Royale and City Place Apartments

Demolition to clean up the burned down structure at The Royale and City Place Apartments started April 7.

Brad Simma, Vice President Construction Development Block Real Estate Services, says it will take another three weeks before the site of the fire is cleared.

On top of making sure the other two nearby structures with some damage are safe to keep working on building.

"Overall we're probably ten to 12 months behind now. Once we start our reconstruction of the two buildings that were demolished we anticipate a ten to 12 month period to get those rebuilt,” said Simma.

Simma states the main concern for Block Real Estate is the families whose homes were impacted by the fire. They have appointed ambassadors to each family to assist with any needs or questions they might have.

The company also set up a donation fund for the families, which has raised $85,000. Here is where you can donate.




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