LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Police are investigating what they are calling a suspicious fire that caused damage to the visitors center in downtown Lancaster during the early morning hours on Sunday.
At around 3:00 am Sunday, Dec. 12, morning, police and fire crews were dispatched to the first block of West King Street for a reported building fire. When crews arrived, they discovered that the fire was outside the Lancaster City Visitor’s Center at Penn Square, and was spreading to the building.
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Fire crews quickly extinguished the flames and it was discovered that it began in a portable toilet located just outside the Visitor’s Center. The fire, however, grew large enough to where it began to damage the historic building, causing the center to be filled with smoke.
“On the exterior, there’s some pretty significant soot damage as well as two windows that will need to be replaced,” Communications Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement DJ Ramsay said. “Then on the interior, there is a little bit of fire damage, but it is primarily smoke damage. Basically, any pours surface throughout the entire building is caked with smoke.”
There were no injuries reported from the fire and damage estimates are not yet known. The fire department has determined that the fire was arson. There have been a string of arsons involving portable toilets. Investigators are looking into seeing if this was one of those cases.
After four days of investigation, Detective Toby Hickey was able to track the path of the man allegedly responsible for the fire from the point he left a local restaurant to his arrival at the scene of the fire.
Brandon Walburn, 31, resident of York turned himself in on Monday, Dec. 20, for allegedly setting fire to the portable toilet, according to Lancaster Police. He faces three charges of Arson and related offenses, one charge of Criminal Mischief, one charge each of Causing or Risking Catastrophe, Institutional Vandalism, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
A warrant for Walburn’s arrest was originally made on Dec. 17. His whereabouts were unknown until Monday.
Walburn was arraigned and is currently incarcerated at the Lancaster County Prison. Bail has been set at $100,000.
In total, the estimated value of the damage caused to the center is $25,000 and $2,300 for the portable toilet damage.