Arson and disaster risk charges have been filed against an Elk County man, according to police, who set fire to an abandoned three-story hotel last week.
Police said Andrew Higdon, 30, of Johnsonburg, told them he was “curious and bored” when he set the historic Johnsonburg Hotel on fire on December 30. WJAC reports.
Firefighters were reportedly called to the scene of the blaze on East Center Street in Johnsonburg around 3 p.m. as the flames spread and engulfed the abandoned building. It took firefighters several hours to bring the flames under control, and the roof of the abandoned hotel collapsed on the lower floors, according to reports.
When the teams arrived, Higdon exited a nearby auto garage and told police he saw another man leave the hotel just before the blaze started, according to reports.
But police were wary of Higdon’s detailed description as he would have gone too far to see those details, and Higdon appeared to be nervous as he remained at the scene of the blaze, according to reports. Their suspicions were further heightened when the owner of the auto garage told them that Higdon had stopped shortly before the fire and was drinking alcohol, and that he left and returned several times, according to reports.
WJAC reports that police spoke to Higdon that night and that he admitted to drinking when he entered the hotel and set several curtains and a stack of mattresses on fire with his lighter.
He also told police he tried to cover his tracks by calling 911 to report the fire, which he said started because he was “curious and annoyed,” the reports say.
He faces charges of arson, reckless arson, disaster risk, burglary and criminal intrusion.
The building had been put up for judicial sale in 2020, but was not purchased, according to reports.