COHOES, N.Y. – An Upstate New York man is charged in connection with a fire that destroyed several buildings Thursday after attempting to mimic a History Channel show, the Times Union reports Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse as saying.
John Gomes, 51, is charged with felony reckless endangerment and misdemeanor arson.
Morse told the Times Union that Gomes is accused of starting a barrel fire in his backyard that spread out of control. Morse said Gomes was trying to bend metal in an attempt to mimic the TV show "Forged in Fire."
"Forged in Fire" is a show on the History Channel. It's a competition show featuring world-class bladesmiths attempt to win $10,000 by creating edged weapons, the show's website says.
"We often tell people we don't allow open burns in the city, and they often say, 'What's the worst that could happen?'" Morse told the Times Union. "Well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars of damage and destroyed half our downtown."
"Literally, 10 to 15 minutes -- forget about that -- it was fast. Very, very fast," Greg Dyer, who lived in one of the buildings, told WTEN-TV.
The Times Union reports weather conditions were dry and breezy, with wind gusts up to 30 mph.
WTEN-TV reports a total of 17 to 20 buildings were affected in the fire. Some of the buildings were as far as three blocks away from where the fire started. The Times Union says the fire displaced at least 20 people.
Gomes was arraigned in court late Thursday night and pleaded not guilty. Gomes is due back in court on Tuesday morning.