Cohoes unites to support victims of fire started by man imitating TV show

December 02, 2017 11:51 PM

COHOES -- “It's a little setback but I think you'll see the city come back even stronger,” said Steve Pesta. 

The Cohoes business owner is hoping the city comes back ‘Cohoes strong.’ 

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With more than 30 buildings impacted by Thursday's fire and over two dozen people displaced, Pesta is pitching in to help by organizing a fundraiser.

“You can come to the event on the 16th and 17th here at Cohoes bowl and for $20 you get two free games of bowling and a shirt and 100 percent of the proceeds goes to the Cohoes fire victim fund,” he said. 

Awards by Walsh and Creative Marketing, which Pesta owns, is teaming  up with his family's business -the Cohoes Bowling Arena - for the fundraiser in two weeks.

Everyone who participates will get a ‘Cohoes Strong’ t-shirt.

“And the response has been incredible already,” Pesta said. “We're already up to $2,000 and we just started this on Friday.” 

Over on Remsen Street, which is the site of Thursday's fire in the business district, The Outpost Barber Company co-owner, Zachary Ramsey, is also collecting donations.

“Non-perishable foods, toys,” Ramsey said. “Pretty much anything new that we can help with the families that suffered some damages you know.” 

His shop narrowly escaped the flames twice when the building next door caught fire two times that night.
Strong winds carried the flames down three city blocks, torching structures in their paths.

“We were praying the whole night that when the fire reignited it wouldn't catch fire here,” Ramsey said. “God bless everyone else on this street but we were just hoping that it stopped.” 

Smith’s Restaurant next door was not as fortunate.

Cohoes City Officials accuse John Gomes of causing the massive fire by trying to forge a sword at home while imitating the History Channel television series, "Forged in Fire." 

Gomes has been charged with Arson Fourth Degree, a felony, and Reckless Endangerment 1st Degree, also a felony.

He is now out on bail according to the Albany County Jail. 

His neighborhood is focused on rebuilding. 

“Everybody wants to give and support the victims,” Pesta said. 

All donations from the upcoming fundraiser will go to the Cohoes Fire Victims. 

Businesses can also donate $100 or more to the cause for a custom ‘Cohoes Strong’ t-shirt with the businesses name on it.


Nia Hamm

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