Police: Employee at Lancaster Marriott’s rooftop bar sets fire, causing $300,000 in damage when sprinklers activate

LANCASTER — A line cook at a rooftop restaurant at the Marriott Hotel in Lancaster’s Penn Square has been charged with arson, criminal mischief and causing a catastrophe after police say he tripped the sprinkler system by lighting a fire in a bathroom, causing an estimated $300,000 in damage to the hotel.

Philip Key, 27, was charged Tuesday after an investigation of the incident, which occurred around 8:35 p.m. at The Exchange, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, according to Lancaster Police.

The fire was set using a lighter and napkins inside a single-occupancy bathroom adjacent to the restaurant, police say. Staff at the hotel photographed the burnt napkins that were found at the scene and shared surveillance video that showed Key entering the bathroom just before the sprinkler system was activated, police say.

The video also showed Key leaving the bathroom after the sprinklers activated, according to police. He appeared to be soaking wet.

Police say hotel security contacted the fire alarm company and confirmed that the sprinkler activation had been started in the bathroom outside The Exchange. Evidence of burning or charring was also observed around the sprinkler head in the bathroom in question, according to police.

Several floors of the hotel were damaged as a result of the sprinkler system’s activation, according to police.

After the investigation, police took Key into custody at his Elizabethtown home on Wednesday. He was committed to Lancaster County Prison on $100,000 bail after his arraignment.

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