OGDEN — An Ogden man is accused of setting a motel room on fire after he was kicked out and was told to leave by the hotel’s owner.
Paul Milo Larsen, 59, was charged Tuesday with one count of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony.
Just after 1:30 p.m. Monday, fire crews were dispatched to the Western Colony Inn located at 234 24th St. after a fire started in one of the rooms. An Ogden Fire Marshal found that the fire was intentionally set in the bathroom of a room, and the fire was started when a towel was lit on fire, according to charging documents.
Police say the bathroom of the room was “completely destroyed” by the fire, and other damage occurred to the room as well. In charging documents, the damage cost was estimated to be at least $6,000.
Police spoke to the motel’s owner, who said that he had a verbal altercation with Larsen about a financial issue. Larsen was told to be out of the motel by later that day. The owner told police he left the motel around 11:30 a.m. for lunch, and returned to find firefighters putting out the fire, according to charging documents.
Later, police interviewed people staying in nearby rooms. One man said that the man staying in room 11, where Larsen was staying before his eviction, used the man’s phone to call two people. Police found that the two numbers called belonged to Larsen’s mother and his ex-wife.
After talking to Larsen’s mother, police initiated a three-way call with Larsen, his mother and a police officer. Police asked Larsen to come in for an interview, and he agreed to come in and speak to police.
Larsen said he had heard about the fire “at the place he just got kicked out of” from someone talking about it on a bus and on a Facebook group. Larsen allegedly changed his story and tried to deceive police about his alleged role in the motel arson. Larsen later allegedly said that he never had any thoughts of getting back against the motel owner for kicking him out, but also reportedly said he disliked the owner, saying the was a “slum lord.”
Police also found security footage from the motel, which allegedly shows Larsen leaving the room minutes before smoke can be seen escaping from the room. Shortly after, a neighbor knocks down the door before a large amount of smoke can be seen flowing out of the room.
Several hours later, around 6:51 p.m., a fire started once more at the Western Colony Inn, according to Ogden Police Lt. Clint Christensen. The fire likely kicked back up due to embers from the previous fire. Both times, the motel was safely evacuated and no injuries were reported. After the second fire, the estimated damage cost rose to $20,000, according to a press release from the Ogden Fire Department.
Larsen is being held at the Weber County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8 in Ogden’s 2nd District Court.