Wayne Taylor
Wayne Taylor

A homeless man told police he set a York City motel room afire Saturday morning because he had nowhere to go and had decided to either "hurt himself" or go to jail, according to police.

Wayne Allen Taylor, 36, remains in York County Prison on $250,000 bail, charged with arson and 41 counts each of risking a catastrophe, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

One employee suffered minor burns while evacuating the motel guests, York City Police said.

The fire caused about $750,000 in damage to the Rodeway Inn, 132 N. George St., and about $6,000 in damage to contents inside the motel, according to York City Deputy Fire Chief Greg Halpin.

Taylor left the motel after setting the 9:40 a.m.

A notice and caution tape warn people away from the Rodeway Inn on North George Street, which was evacuated Saturday after a fire started in Room 314. A
A notice and caution tape warn people away from the Rodeway Inn on North George Street, which was evacuated Saturday after a fire started in Room 314. A homeless man is charged with arson in the case. (John A. Pavoncello)
blaze inside Room 314, but a short time later called York County 911 from a friend's home and identified himself as the person who set the fire, according to his arrest affidavit.

Confessed: Fire Capt. Chad Deardorff was given the phone number of Taylor's friend, at which point he called Taylor, who admitted to the arson, the affidavit states.

"I am ready to meet someone and turn myself in," Taylor told Deardorff, the affidavit alleges.

Taylor later spoke with city detectives and a state police fire marshal, telling them he had rented Room 314 but had to check out at 11 a.m. Saturday and had nowhere to go, according to police.

Taylor said he came up with two ideas -- either hurt himself or "do something wrong and go to jail," the affidavit alleges.


He said he waited until closer to checkout time to set the fire, thinking there would be fewer people inside the rooms, police said.

He told investigators he used a lighter to set both corners of the motel-room bed on fire, then left, the affidavit states.

Alarm system: Halpin said the York City Fire Department is investigating whether the Rodeway Inn's alarm system properly sounded.

"The strobes and sounders apparently didn't go off to alert other (motel guests)," Halpin said, which is required.

Motel employee Gary Emswiler started to evacuate the guests and suffered minor burns, police said. He was treated at York Hospital.

Arriving officers then took over evacuation efforts as fire crews battled the blaze in the third-floor room, police said.

Halpin said the Rodeway Inn sustained significant damage and will need significant repairs before it can reopen.

After repairs are made, city codes officials will have to inspect the motel, he said, and the fire department will inspect the fire-alarm system.

Motel closed: Rodeway employee Nick Patel said 10 to 15 tenants of the motel are now staying at the Days Inn on Arsenal Road.

Patel was busy making calls Sunday to everyone who had reservations at the motel.

"(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."

The motel remains closed.

"I am lost right now," Patel said. "Right now security is our first priority."

The Rodeway Inn has 55 rooms and seven employees, he said.

-- Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com. Staff writer Chelsea Shank contributed to this report.