A homeless man stealing copper pipes may have caused Tuesday afternoon’s fire at the in St. Charles, according to a police report. The fire damaged four rooms at the motel, according to a St. Louis Post Dispatch article. No one was injured.
Thomas Gilley, 23, was charged Thursday with first-degree burglary.
said in a report that Gilley broke into a storage area at the rear of the Arch Budget Motel, 3717 Veterans Memorial Parkway, damaging a door and doorframe with a shovel. He was trying to steal copper pipes, he told police.
According to the report, as Gilley was breaking off copper pipes, he damaged a gas line, but continued his attempt to steal the pipes. A fireball filled the room, igniting a fire at the motel, which had guests staying in nearby rooms.
Gilley left without notifying authorities, according to the report. The St. Charles Fire Department responded to the one-alarm blaze at about 1:15 p.m.
Lt. Dave Senter, of St. Charles Police, said investigators are awaiting the fire marshal’s report, and more charges against Gilley may be pending.
Bond was set at $15,000.