Prosecutor: Newcomb fire set on accident

Information revealed in court Tuesday showed that the fire that destroyed a historic Quincy Hotel was accidental.

Matthew Clark, 24, is charged with criminal damage over $100,000 and burglary in the fire that destroyed the long-vacant Newcomb Hotel at Fourth and Maine streets. Clark made his first court appearance Tuesday morning in Adams County before Circuit Judge Robert Adrian.

Clark was in the building in August when he fell through the floor and got hurt, according to Assistant State's Attorney Laura Keck.

Clark told police that he went into the building Sept. 6 to look for scrap metal. His flashlight stopped working so put some paper in a metal can and lit it on fire, Keck said.

The can fell on a blanket and caught fire. The building was a total loss with cleanup estimated at nearly $500,000.

Adrian appointed attorney Brett Jansen to represent Clark who is unable to afford an attorney.

Clark is scheduled to make another court appearance Wednesday morning.

Two women appeared in court Tuesday with Clark, but didn't speak during the hearing.