An Elk County man said he was “curious and bored” when he set fire to the old Johnsonburg Hotel last week, according to a criminal complaint.
Johnsonburg police say Andrew Higdon is facing numerous felonies including arson, reckless burning, risking catastrophe, burglary and criminal trespassing.
Authorities were called for a working fire at the three-story hotel along E. Center Street just before 3 p.m. Wednesday.
After arriving on scene, a Johnsonburg police officer says he saw smoke billowing out of the top floor of the building, but none on the lower floors.
Multiple fire crews were called in to help.
Crews decided not to enter the hotel because it was abandoned and classified as a “dangerous structure,” according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, police say Higdon exited a nearby auto garage and approached police claiming to have seen a man exit the hotel right before the fire started.
According to the complaint, Higdon provided police with a very detailed description of the suspect – details that police say Higdon wouldn’t have been able to see from his vantage point, about 100 feet away.
The owners of the nearby garage told officers that Higdon had stopped into the garage shortly before the fire and was drinking alcohol, the complaint says.
The owners told police that Higdon had disappeared several times for 15-minute intervals, according to the complaint.
According to police, fire crews were eventually able to extinguish the flames after several hours, but the hotel was badly damaged.
They say the entire roof was consumed by fire and collapsed into the lower levels, and falling debris even damaged the nearby auto garage.
Police say Higdon never left the scene of the fire and appeared nervous the entire time.
According to the complaint, officers questioned Higdon again about discrepancies with his story.