December 4, 2017

A man "trying to bend metal and make a hammer or something" — inspired by the TV show "Forged in Fire" — sets off a fire that burns 3 city blocks.

The NYT reports.

John Gomes, 51, wanted to emulate the characters on the History channel reality show where "bladesmiths compete to create swords and other edged weapons." But the wind was 30 mph in his city (Cohoes, NY) and the sparks had a mind to create a reality show of their own.
“He’s a father of two,” Christopher Ritchey, an Albany County public defender who is representing Mr. Gomes, said in an interview on Saturday. “He’s a hard-working plumber. And this is just a terrible, unfortunate accident, but it’s not a crime.”
He's charged with felony counts of arson and reckless endangerment.

36 comments:

Bob Boyd said...

He should have said he was working to develop a chastity belt to be locked on men in positions of power.

Bob Boyd said...

And he should insist his name is pronounced Juan Gomez.

MadisonMan said...

Can accidents show criminal intent? I don't think so.

You shouldn't go to prison for, essentially, lacking foresight.

AllenS said...

I'd like to see some comments from people who lived in those 3 city blocks.

sparrow said...

reckless endangerment sounds about right, arson though seems too much, but I'm no lawyer.

mockturtle said...

I've seen the show a few times and found it fascinating but they should probably tell viewers, Don't try this at home.

Ann Althouse said...

"Reckless endangerment" sounds about right though, doesn't it?

CWJ said...

“He’s a hard-working plumber. And this is just a terrible, unfortunate accident, but it’s not a crime.”

Oh really.

MadisonMan, you are too forgiving. He was working with fire in the open in a 30MPH wind.

Bob Boyd said...

How could this guy be expected to know that fire is dangerous?
With any luck, Trump will issue a tweet calling for his head.

Original Mike said...

Blogger MadisonMan said..."Can accidents show criminal intent?"
Blogger Ann Althouse said..."Reckless endangerment" sounds about right though, doesn't it?"

Seems to me he was merely "extremely careless.". We all know that's not a crime.

mockturtle said...

Men can't be fully trusted with fire. I'm sure the first cave-woman knew this instinctively.

Expat(ish) said...

Love that show, and it's so good that it inspires me to want to make my own blades.

Two problems with that:
1> I'd look funny in a kilt with a man bun and a sleeve of unfortunate tats
2> I've worked at a blacksmith's forge in the NC summer and I can recall it vividly almost 40 years later

Fantastic TV though.

-XC

Matthew Sablan said...

"He said Mr. Gomes had been interviewed by detectives and made “statements that implicated himself.”"

-- Well, that's his own fault.

Henry said...

I used to live in Troy, across the Hudson river from Cohoes. I have a number of friends who posted pictures and articles about the fire last week.

Here's an article from the Albany Times Union that has many more details and pictures, including a picture of Mr. Gomes.

My first question is "what kind of fire regulations allow a fire to spread this easily?"

But I know the answer already. A depressed city with a lot of old buildings.

A small detail: "Gusts up to 30 MPH" is not a 30 MPH wind. A national weather service wind advisory requires sustained winds of 30 MPH and gusts of 45 MPH.

james james said...

mockturtle said...
"Men can't be fully trusted with fire. I'm sure the first cave-woman knew this instinctively."

Probably so!

Yet I will still light a woman's cigarette. So far I have not caught the woman on fire.

Yes: a factor of luck is probably involved.

- james james

narayanan said...

urban renewal by accidental arson

Matthew Sablan said...

"Correction: December 2, 2017

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of buildings damaged. It was 28, not 31."

Can't they get ANYTHING right?

Matthew Sablan said...

"urban renewal by accidental arson"

-- It worked for London.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

As long as he gets the same jury as the guy who killed Kate Steinle he should be fine.
Accidents happen, right?

buwaya said...

Blacksmithing is quite a large youtube genre. There are dozens of guys there doing all sorts of work. Of course many of them are obsessed with folded damascus blades.

buwaya said...

The first picture in the Times Union article is wonderful.
It looks like a stage set.

Michael K said...


Blogger Matthew Sablan said...
"urban renewal by accidental arson"

-- It worked for London.


Thank God Pepys lived upwind.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If anyone heard fiddling while the fires raged I think this guy might have a defense...

MadisonMan said...

He was working with fire in the open in a 30MPH wind.

No. Albany's peak gust that day was 34 mph. Mean winds for the day was 10. Strongest sustained wind 24.

(That was the closest climate summary for 30 November I could find in 2 minutes)

mockturtle said...

All it takes is one gust. ;-)

Static Ping said...

Ah, that explains the "don't try this at home" disclaimer on the show yesterday.

CWJ said...

I just knew I'd get pettifogged over the "30mph wind." So my fault for repeating Althouse's phrase without confirmation.

So, rephrasing, he was working with fire in the open on a windy day. Doesn't really put Gomes in a better light.

Nonapod said...

I'm from the area. Guy was an idiot, plain and simple. To reach the age of 51 and to still not understand that messing around with an open fire on a windy day near a bunch of old buildings is a recipe for disaster? Good lord. Stupidity can be a very dangerous thing.

Char Char Binks said...

Some accidents are crimes.

Bob said...

Was it just his forge fore or did he go for an oil quench? That looks like it has real burn down the block possibilities.

Darrell said...

What would you have him do when he's bored, shoot at sea lions?

Fernandistein said...

If I had to make hammer or something,
I'd burn down a town in the morning
I'd burn down a town in the evening
I'd burn down towns all over this land.

(Note to NSA: I don't have to make a hammer or something.)

Dave in Tucson said...

Arson requires intent, doesn't it?

Although there's no excuse for foolishness. Hopefully he won't try to blame the History Channel.

Martin said...

Arson may be a stretch but if the English language means anything to lawyers, this was clearly reckless endangerment.

Plus, of course, civil liability.

Rusty said...

Bob said...
"Was it just his forge fore or did he go for an oil quench? That looks like it has real burn down the block possibilities."

I'm betting it was the blower on an open forge. Like a ferriers forge. Probably used wood instead of charcoal or coal.

Sigivald said...

Ref. Martin's comment above - in the article, it says reckless arson.

NY Penal Law 160.05: "A person is guilty of arson in the fourth degree when he recklessly damages a building or motor vehicle by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion."