Backyard blacksmith ignites 20-building fire

(WNYT/NBC News) Investigators say a backyard blacksmith accidentally ignited the massive fire that destroyed or damaged 20 buildings in downtown Cohoes, New York Thursday.

COHOES, NY -- Investigators say a backyard blacksmith accidentally ignited the massive fire that destroyed or damaged 20 buildings in downtown Cohoes, New York Thursday.

"I can tell you the extent of the damage is everything you'd ever think you can see in a fire," said Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse. "From houses being destroyed, to smoke damage that's still going to cost thousands of dollars, and the inconvenience of trying to clean your house and go home and not smell like it's a fire."

The fire's origin the backyard  of John Gomes, 51, who had a fire going in a steel drum. They say he was trying to bend metal to mold it into a sword. The problem, however, was that, at the time, winds were gusting up to 30 miles per hour.

"We often tell people we don't allow open burns in the city and they often say, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" Morse says, "This open burn just caused millions of dollars in damage and has destroyed half of our downtown." 

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