The man who set the Town Center Hotel on fire last year is scheduled to be sentenced next week on charges of attempted murder, arson and burglary.
Amos Andrews, 57, pleaded guilty Monday in Superior Court to charges of attempted murder, arson of an inhabited structure with a use of an accelerant enhancement and first-degree residential burglary.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Andrews broke into Santa Maria’s Town Center Hotel in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2013. More than 50 people were present in the hotel at 215 N. Broadway, which is used as long-term residential housing.
He set the maintenance room on fire, and the cans of paint, paint thinners and other chemicals acted as accelerants, so the fire quickly spread throughout the hotel. A quick response by the Santa Maria Fire Department, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the Santa Maria Police Department helped evacuate all the residents with some dramatic rescues.
A ladder truck was propped against the building so people could escape from the second-floor roof, and authorities said some occupants were hanging out of their windows due to the heavy smoke.
Seven residents were injured in the fire, but none with serious injuries, and the building was destroyed.
Investigators found evidence linking Andrews to the fire and started searching for him later that day, but authorities won’t disclose details about the evidence itself.
He was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.
Forty-three people were left homeless by the fire and a temporary shelter was opened. The people who were living in the two-story section of the building have moved back into that section, Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens said.
Andrews is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. March 7 in Santa Maria Judge Rogelio Flores’ courtroom.
There is a possibility the date will have to change since there are more than 50 victims and they all have a constitutional right to make an impact statement at the sentencing, Jebens said.
Andrews is expected to receive a 17-year prison sentence and would have to serve 85 percent of that time before he becomes eligible for parole, Jebens said.
“He has no prior arson convictions that I know of,” he said.