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Man aping TV show tries to make sword, scorches city, says mayor

Commentary: A New York man allegedly sees the TV show "Forged In Fire," gets inspired, and leaves 32 buildings damaged.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Don't copy what you see on TV.

KGW News; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's rarely wise to copy what happens on a reality TV show.

Reality TV has its own reality, one that can be quite divorced from the rather more real reality most people experience. 

This is something 51-year-old John Gomes, from Cohoes, New York, allegedly discovered to his cost. A lot of other people's cost, too.

He seems to have been a fan of the History Channel show "Forged In Fire."  It's a series where some of the finest blade makers in the world compete to create the finest weapons from days of yore.

Yes, these people can make swords just as effective as the ones on "Game of Thrones." But they know what they're doing. They also know what not to do. Put other people in danger, for example.

As the Albany Times Union reports, on Thursday, Gomes was, according to authorities, trying to bend metal over a fire-filled steel barrel to make a sword.

It seems, though, that it was a windy day, up to 30 mph. The flames from his burning barrel allegedly blew far and wide, as basic science would intimate they might. 

Soon, CNN reports, 32 buildings were damaged. Three were completely destroyed. Firefighters fought for six hours to control the blaze.

Neither the Cohoes mayor nor the fire department immediately responded to a request for comment.

However, the Times Union said Mayor Shawn Morse, himself a former firefighter, told a press conference: "We often tell people we don't allow open burns in the city and they often say, 'What's the worst that could happen?' Well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars of damage and destroyed half our downtown."

Cohoes enjoys a population of around 16,000, many of whom were surely affected by the alleged actions of one man.

Gomes has been charged with felony reckless endangerment and misdemeanor arson. He's been jailed on $15,000 bail. 

"I don't know if Mr. Gomes meant to do it, but it happened," said Mayor Morse, according to the Times Union. "And the results are horrendous on our community."

Car ads tell you that stunts are performed by professionals so please don't try this at home. It's the same with anything you see on TV that looks remotely difficult or dangerous.

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