CityPlace developer sets up relief fund for victims of Overland Park fire

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Two days after a massive fire claimed a large scale development project and several nearby homes, we're hearing from one of the developers behind the project.

Ken Block appeared sincere and visibly shaken about what he called, "a tragedy." He gave FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien an emotional interview as he described standing in a field looking out upon the raging inferno Monday, as he watched his development burn and catch on to the neighborhood nearby.

"The only thing that was going through my mind, the only thing, is I was praying to God that nobody was hurt," Block said.

Block's prayers were answered that night, as incredibly, no lives were lost.

"As a company, it's got us very upset, but we don't have time to focus on that right now. We just gotta think about those people and doing everything we can to somehow get their lives back," Block said.

He's set up a program called the Block Care Team, which will provide food, clothes, and resources to those who were affected by the fire. There's even a relief fund to fill gaps were insurance might fall short.

"I know that he's not obligated to do that in any way, but for sure we will appreciate any help," homeowner Nikola Nikolov said.

Nikolov was one of the people who lost everything. His home is destroyed.

He said he was always concerned about the proximity of the large apartment buildings to his home, and said if the property is rebuilt in the same place it was, he will not return.

"This will be a factor. Huge factor," Nikolav said, fearing that this could happen again.

"We'll exceed the conditions that need to be done, exceed the codes. Whatever it takes, because there's a dream community that will be here one day that we'll all be proud of," Block said. "This is a horrible, horrible moment that we have to all face."

One thing Block said he and Titan Construction will have to face is looking into if safety protocol was followed.

The fire was found to be accidental due to welding, but they will have to look into whether the proper safety procedures were followed.

Block Development Company has established the Block Cares Fire Relief Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation with an initial $50,000 donation from the Kenneth and Lisa Block Philanthropic Foundation, to support affected families, firefighters, first responders and the relief agencies that have been instrumental in assisting affected residents with their short term and long-term needs.

If you would like to contribute to the fund, online donations may be made at www.blockcaresfirerelieffund.com.

For those who prefer to mail a check, please make checks payable to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, noting the Block Cares Fire Relief Fund on the memo line, and mail to:

Greater Kansas City Community Foundation

1055 Broadway Blvd., Suite 130

Kansas City, MO 64105

The Block Development Company and Block Multifamily Group and their employees are also working with affected families to help with their immediate and future needs.

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