ATF agents escort families back to damaged homes to see if anything can be salvaged

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- As the smoke clears, the families affected by the devastating fire in Overland Park are picking up the pieces. They're touring the aftermath for the first time, and talking to investigators about what's next.

At Christ Lutheran Church, ATF agents are meeting with 17 families whose homes were either destroyed or damaged by the fire.

The investigation is expected to take a while. The agents are treating each house as its own investigation.

They're talking to each family about their property and what was lost.

Agents are then escorting the families one at a time to the neighborhood to see if there's anything left to salvage.

Phil McPherson and Amy Wickley don't believe they'll be able to recover much.

Twenty years of family heirlooms and memories disappeared in a matter of minutes.

"It's sentimental and it means a lot to us, but just to have each other and be OK and healthy that's just such a bonus compared to what it could've turned out too. We're just extremely happy that we're both here," McPherson said.

"The roof is gone, completely gone. There was so much water. They found one of our cats in the basement to hours after and he was soaking wet. I can't imagine how much water is in the house," Wickley added.

McPherson said he only had time to grab one of his two cats before his house went up in flames. FOX 4 happened to be at the scene Monday afternoon when firefighters reunited them with their second cat.

Amy Wickley cradles her cat after firefighters recovered it from their home.

The couple believes if the fire had sparked in the middle of the night, they may not have made it out.

Again, Christ Lutheran Church plans to stay open as long as it's needed for the families.