A 36-year-old man, Wayne Allen Taylor, is charged with arson, risking a catastrophe and numerous counts of aggravated assault in connection with a Saturday morning fire at the Rodeway Inn on North George Street in York City.
Police and fire departments were dispatched to the fire at the inn, 132 N. George St., at 9:42 a.m. Saturday, police said.
When police arrived, they got master keys from motel management and began evacuating people from their rooms while fire crews knocked down flames, according to Taylor's charging documents.
Only minor injuries were reported.
Rodeway Inn employee Nick Patel, working at the front desk, told police the motel office had received a smoke detector alarm from room 314, and he had sent employee Gary Emswiler to check on the room.
Emswiler was able to help some tenants from their rooms, but he sustained minor burn injuries and was transported to York Hospital. He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday morning, Patel said.
Meanwhile, police could not find the occupant for room 314, who turned out to be Taylor.
All other tenants were accounted for and evacuated to another location, charging documents say.
A state police fire marshal was on the scene and determined the fire to be intentionally set, according to charging documents.
Fire Capt. Chad Deardorff got a call from county control asking if officials were searching for Taylor and providing a phone number where he could talk to Taylor.
When asked by phone if he was at the scene when the fire started and whether he had started the fire, Taylor said yes and that he was "ready to talk to someone," according to charging documents.
Taylor told Deardorff he was at a friend's house and was ready to turn himself in, charging documents say.
Taylor returned to the Rodeway Inn and was Mirandized and taken into custody by police.
When interviewed, Taylor admitted he had rented room 314 and said on Saturday morning he thought about where he could live, since he had nowhere to go, and had the idea to "do something wrong," as in hurting himself, or "do something wrong and go to jail," charging documents say.
Instead of hurting himself, Taylor set his room at the inn on fire by lighting two bed corners with a lighter and leaving the room, the charging documents say.
The documents say he told police he did not see flames when he left, and wasn't sure the bed had caught fire until he heard sirens as he was walking away. When he got to a friend's house and told what he had done, the friend advised him to turn himself in, the charging documents say.
At that time , the documents state, he called 911 and said he wanted to turn himself in.
Rodeway employee Patel said that between 10 to 15 tenants of the inn are now staying at the Days Inn on Arsenal Road.
Patel was busy making calls on Sunday to everyone who had reservations at the inn.
"(Taylor) had no connection to the hotel. This was the first time he ever came to the hotel," Patel said. "He got a room just the night before and he looked like a decent person, but I didn't know he was going to commit this kind of crime."
"I am lost right now. We are totally shut down," Patel said. "Right now security is our first priority."
The Rodeway Inn has seven employees, Patel said.
There are 55 rooms, but Patel was unsure how many were damaged.
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