HOMER, N.Y. — Police have announced charges against a Homer man in connection with a fatal fire at an historic building in the village that occurred early Friday morning.

Brian Bermudez, 39, who lived in a second-floor apartment in the building, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, both felonies.

According to police, Bermudez was treated for minor injuries at Cortland Regional Medical Center Friday night. He was then arraigned in Homer Town Court and taken to Cortland County Jail on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond.

His arrest comes after dozens of firefighters were called to a structure fire at the Wheadon Block building on South Main Street early Friday morning. The blaze started at 2:45 a.m. and continued through the afternoon hours.

A separate apartment on the second floor was occupied by a still-yet-unidentified person, whose body was recovered at around 11 p.m. Friday, police said.

The last homicide investigation in the village of Homer was in 1993, when Clair Thornton killed his mother with a shotgun after a night of drinking.

In a phone interview Saturday, Homer Police Chief Robert Pitman commended firefighters for containing the fire to one building.

“The Homer Fire Department and other fire departments that initially responded did an outstanding job saving the South Main Street block,” he said. “They contained the fire to one building, with minor exposure to the buildings next to it.”

The historic Wheadon Block building, which was constructed in the 1840s, will be taken down due to significant structural damage to the building, Pitman said.


Peter is the editor and co-founder of The Cortland Voice. Email him at pblanchard@cortlandvoice.com.