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Homeless Man Stealing Pipes Started Motel Fire, Police Say

The Arch Budget Motel caught fire Tuesday after a burglar damaged a gas line, a St. Charles Police said in a report.

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.

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