Overland Park fire that spread through neighborhood provides stark warning for all homeowners

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park Attorney Brad Russell watched the fire unfold from his 12th floor office in Corporate Woods. Russell, who litigates insurance claims, said most fire victims have one common wish -- that they had done more to protect their property.

"I think one of the most important things homeowners need to realize is the importance of documenting your personal property," said Russell of Sanders, Warren and Russell LLP.

Documentation can be done on your cell phone via photos or video.

And when's the last time you updated your homeowner's policy? For many homeowners, it was more than a decade ago or whenever they locked in their 30-year mortgage.

"In these circumstances that can create a great peril for those homeowners because the cost to rebuild can be $50,000 or $100,000 more than what they took out in insurance," Russell said.

In the case of the Overland Park fire, under-insured and even uninsured homeowners could be saved by the fact that the fire spread from another building. Whomever is ruled responsible for the initial fire could be required to pay for all damages.

And how about all of those shake shingle roofs? Did they make the fire even worse?

An insurance broker told FOX 4 Problem Solvers that of the five insurance companies she worked with, none would insure homes with shake shingle roofs because of the fire danger.

Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly said Monday's fire was so hot that no house was safe -- no matter the roof.

"Some houses that caught on fire just had the siding that melted, another house had shake shingle, another house (that burned ) had composite (roofing)," Reilly said.

As homeowners began picking through the charred remains of their lives, the Johnson County District Attorney's Office was warning of a new threat -- scammers, posing as home repairmen.