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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 28th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 51

Town Center Hotel fire defendant pleads guilty

CAMILLIA LANHAM


HOTEL ARSON:
Amos Andrews recently pled guilty to setting the Town Center Hotel on fire the morning of Oct. 12, 2013. This photo was taken on Oct. 15; the hotel has since received some repairs.
FILE PHOTO BY JOE PAYNE

The Santa Maria man who set fire to the Town Center Hotel is expected to receive 17 years in prison at his sentencing hearing. Amos Andrews, 57, pled guilty to attempted murder, arson of an inhabited structure with an accelerant, and first-degree residential burglary on Feb. 24; his sentencing was continued to March 7.

Andrews broke into the Santa Maria's Town Center Hotel on Broadway in the early morning on Oct. 12, 2013, and set the maintenance room on fire. According to authorities, paint, paint thinners, and other chemicals stored in the room acted as accelerants, spreading the fire quickly to other areas of the hotel. The more than 50 people present at the time of the fire were evacuated.

Andrews was arrested that evening.

One side of the building was severely affected by the blaze, and residents of the hotel were forced to find temporary alternative housing. Many took refuge at a Good Samaritan Shelter set up at the Minami Center in Santa Maria. Most residents were able to return to the hotel after three weeks of repairs were completed on one side of the hotel.

The south side of the building was severely damaged and is expected to take about a year to repair at a cost of more than $1 million.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a press release that the fast response and professional investigation by the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County fire departments and the Santa Maria Police Department led to a large amount of evidence collection and a swift arrest.

"Follow-up support from the District Attorney's Arson Task Force combined with the legal research conducted ... made it possible to achieve this successful outcome without incurring the high costs associated with this type of trial," Dudley said in the release.