COHOES, N.Y. -- A state of emergency is in effect in Cohoes following the massive fire on Remsen Street.
Several people are now displaced, and 31 buildings were damaged. The ones deemed destroyed were set to be demolished Friday evening.
The Cohoes fire chief says the fire, now deemed arson, wasn’t started intentionally -- but more because of severe negligence.
The man arrested, 51-year-old John Gomes, was allegedly trying to burn metal in a barrel at his home, but because of wind he was not able to. It was then that he moved the barrel closer to his house to avoid the wind, and the initial fire started -- according to the chief. Heavy winds then carried it to neighboring buildings.
"The wind was working against us. When I came around the corner I couldn't believe the amount of fire that was blowing down the street at us," said Cohoes Fire Chief Joseph Fahd.
The extent of the damage ranges from buildings being completely destroyed to roof damage and melted siding.
Crews are asking people to avoid the area if possible due to the heavy amount of work and cleanup that needs to be done in the area.
Hot spots underneath the debris need to be officially extinguished. At that point road clean up can be completed and Remsen Street will eventually reopen. The codes enforcement team is assessing which buildings will need to be demolished.
There have been several people inquiring on how they can help those displaced, but the fire chief says to wait of official word. He wants to get an inventory on what people need and who needs it, even for the businesses that burned down.
Fahd says it is amazing that no one was hurt in the course of fire, saying: “you cannot rebuild lives, but you can rebuild buildings.”
It's something the Cohoes mayor says could have been prevented.
"Just be careful, think about what you are doing. If you have any questions contact the fire department. How do you have an open burn? When can you have a burn? What do you have to have? Just think before you do it because this is the results of not thinking,” said Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse.
Nearly 100 firefighters reported to the fire.
Gomes was charged with arson and reckless endangerment and sent to Albany County Jail.