ATLANTA – Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King announced today that Shawn Harkness, 44, is wanted on charges of 1st Degree Arson relating to a Cornelia fire. The instance occurred at approximately 4:47 p.m. on Monday, May 31, at the Days Inn located on Level Grove Road. Upon investigation, an agent with the State Fire Marshal’s office determined that the fire originated in the facility’s storage room and was caused by a human act.

“The 32-year-old, 40 room hotel had 11 rooms rented at the time of the fire,” said Commissioner King. “After interviewing witnesses, our agent determined Mr. Harkness to be the primary suspect. At this time, Mr. Harkness has not been apprehended, and we are asking for the help of the community and surrounding areas in bringing him to justice.”

Commissioner King’s Fire Investigation Unit is assisting the Cornelia Police and Fire Departments with this investigation. In coordination with the State Fire Investigation Unit, a reward of up to $10,000 is offered by Georgia Arson Control for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for arson.

Anyone with information about the suspect’s whereabouts is invited to call Commissioner King’s State Fire Investigators Unit at 1-800-282-5804. This anonymous hotline operates around the clock.


The mission of the Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner is to protect Georgia families by providing access to vital insurance products and safe buildings through fair regulation that creates economic opportunities for all Georgians.

Contact Weston Burleson