Man sentenced in fatal fire that destroyed historic Homer building

Brian Bermudez (Photo: Homer Police Department)

CORTLAND, N.Y. - A Homer man was sentenced Friday in Cortland County Court in the death of an 81-year-old man in a fatal fire in September 2016.

Judge Julie Campbell sentenced 40-year-old Brian Bermudez to 5 to 15 years in state prison for second-degree manslaughter. He was also sentenced to 8 years in prison for criminal possession of a controlled substance, though the two sentences will be served concurrently.

The sentencing came following a plea deal in which Bermudez accepted responsibility for the death of 81-year-old Dewayne Block on Sep. 2, 2016, who perished in a fire that was caused by a meth lab explosion.

"Although he accepted his responsibility, it does not bring Mr. Block back but hopefully it will give Mr. Block's family and friends closure," Village of Homer Police Chief Robert Pitman said in a statement.

On that early September morning, Bermudez was cooking methamphetamine at an upstairs apartment in the historic Wheadon Block building on 23 South Main St. His meth lab exploded, causing a fire that engulfed much of the building.

The building, constructed in the 1840s, was eventually demolished due to significant structural damage from the fire.

Firefighters work to contain a structure fire at 23 S. Main Street in the village of Homer, Sept. 2, 2016 (Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice)