Man Sets off Massive Fire After Attempting to Recreate TV Stunt

An inferno, considered the "worst disaster" ever seen in Cohoes, New York, was caused by a man who tried to imitate something he saw on television, officials said Thursday.

According to the Times-Union of Albany, the fire in the Upstate New York city was caused by a man who tried to be an amateur bladesmith, forging a blade using a burning barrel. The fire got out of control, damaging 18 buildings and leaving at least 20 people without a place to live. The fire spread thanks to 20-30 mph winds.

Only one firefighter was treated for injuries. There were no other injuries reported.

"It is the worst disaster the city has ever seen," Mayor Shawn Morse told reporters Thursday evening.

"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 added. "Well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars of damage and destroyed half our downtown."

Six hours after the fire began, 51-year-old John A. Gomes was arrested. He was charged with felony reckless endangerment and misdemeanor arson.

Morse said authorities believe Gomes started the fire in his backyard. He tried to mimic what he saw on the History Channel's Forged In Fire series.

Gomes pleaded not guilty and is being held on $15,000 bail. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.


"The city is working as hard as it can to rebound and return to a sense of normalcy," Morse, a former firefighter, told CNN.

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