This may come as a surprise to no one — State Police today ruled the fire at the former Days Inn on Friday afternoon an act of arson.
Trooper David Beohm announced at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday the fire was intentionally set.
He says “the investigation showed the fire started in multiple places within the building. The fire is being considered a criminal act of arson.”
Fire at the old Days Inn in North Manheim Twp Schuylkill County ruled arson. pic.twitter.com/qSlsRYOaiO
— Trooper Beohm (@PSPTroopLPIO) March 16, 2019
If you have information that could lead to the person or persons responsible for this fire, call State Police at 570-754-4600 or contact Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers.
Days Inn Arson — A Total Loss That Was Already Gone
The building was most recently a Days Inn when it was an active business. Old-fashioned locals will remember the place best as the Dusselfink.
Since the Days Inn closed, the former motel was being used as shelter for homeless people living along the Schuylkill River. The Canary heard from several local residents who say there was a Tent City outside the motel. And definitely people living inside.
Beohm says in his tweet that firefighters were unable to go inside the building due to its structural integrity.
That forced them to fight the fire as best they could mostly from the air. At some point during the incident, the entire roof collapsed.
The building is a total loss, of course.
But it’s been gone for years. There were at least two previous fires at the former motel. And the property, at one time, was actually two buildings. However, it’s alleged the owner of the property burned one building to collect insurance money on it. Eventually, he skipped town after trying to set fire to the part that burned yesterday.
The owner was reportedly tracked down in the last week or two to address the abandoned structures. Obviously, he or someone on his behalf, seems to have addressed it.
DON’T OPEN – DEAD INSIDE
Check out this video from YouTube creator Journey With Jay. It’s DEFINITELY worth the 15 minutes or so. He went into the Days Inn in 2017 after it had been abandoned for a couple years. Clearly, he was putting himself at great danger to do this but the video he shot that day was shocking.
At one point during the video, he encounters a set of entrance doors to the property. On the doors in red spray paint it reads “DON’T OPEN – DEAD INSIDE”. He goes in and does find several doors barricaded shut.
Outside of that, both buildings were completely trashed. Pipes and wires are stripped clean. That was the only clean part of the place. Walls were busted out. Mold was everywhere. And the trash heap along the Schuylkill River was disgusting.
The homeless don’t live in filth, generally. The level of damage inside and out of that property suggests it was a haunt for junkies and God knows who else.
Let your mind wander and imagine what was happening back there.
So, there are several outcomes to this incident.
First, of course, will be the prosecution of whomever is responsible for setting fire to the building on Friday. All signs point to the owner but when you consider who was there after he left the area, you never know.
It’s clear, also, there were people living either in or around the motel. Where are they going? Are they coming back to Pottsville to live along the Schuylkill?
And finally, we have to wonder what’s happening on the west shoulder of Route 61 heading out of Pottsville. It’s more flammable than a sugar plant, apparently. Odd for a stretch of land alongside a river, no?
The short-lived Chinese restaurant that was right on the side of the highway burned several years ago and just recently, the building that once housed an illegal massage parlor also burned to the ground.