Officials say an inferno that destroyed or damaged nearly two dozen buildings in a city in upstate New York was sparked by an amateur bladesmith. The blaze broke out Thursday in downtown Cohoes, near Albany, and was hampered by winds. The Times Union of Albany reports three buildings were destroyed and 18 others were damaged. The city is under a state of emergency. "It is the worst disaster the city has ever seen," Mayor Shawn Morse told reporters late Thursday. While the fire was still burning, John Gomes was charged with felony reckless endangerment and misdemeanor arson, the AP reports
Gomes pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday night. Officials say the 51-year-old started a barrel fire in his backyard that quickly spread. They say he apparently was trying to bend metal in an attempt to imitate the History Channel TV series Forged in Fire, which is about bladesmiths competing to create "history's most iconic edged weapons." "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 said. "Well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars of damage and destroyed half our downtown."
(Read more fire