HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A 26-year-old man accused of setting fire to multiple Madison County businesses has been indicted by a grand jury on all counts of arson and attempted arson.
Nicholas Tremaine Hubbert, of Harvest, was arrested on September 25, 2021, and was charged with seven counts of arson from the Huntsville Police Department (HPD), two from the Madison Police Department (MPD), and one count from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
Hubbert is accused of starting 10 fires in a 17-mile radius in less than three hours, according to authorities:
- Plato’s Closet, located at 4851 Whitesburg Drive
- McDonald’s, located at 1795 U.S. Highway 72 East
- Dollar General, located at 125 Winchester Road Northeast
- Kroger, located at 6070 Moores Mill Road
- Walmart, located at 6140 University Drive
- Huntsville Fire dispatched to Walmart at 5:20 p.m.
- Publix, 8000 Madison Boulevard, Madison
- Madison Fire dispatched to Publix at 6:02 p.m.
- Champy’s Chicken, 8020 Madison Boulevard, MadisonMadison Fire notified at 6:08 p.m. (same shopping complex as Publix)
- Aldi, located at 2125 Winchester Road Northeast
- New Market Volunteer Fire dispatched to Aldi as a mutual aide to Huntsville Fire at 6:46 p.m.
- Dollar General, 1604 Winchester Road, Huntsville
- Huntsville Fire saw the building on fire and combined the call for help around 6:46 p.m.
- Moores Mill Fire dispatched to the blaze around 6:46 p.m.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods, located at 2718 Carl T. Jones Drive Southeast
- Huntsville Fire responded at 8:30 p.m. but say it may not have been the last fire set
- Employees were able to put out the fire before firefighters arrived
Authorities say while no one was injured in the fires listed above, the businesses affected sustained varying levels of damage.
HPD Investigator Frank Rosler, who responded to the fires, testified in court. They covered each individual fire in the hearing, and there was a common theme: $20 bills.
After interviewing Hubbert and watching surveillance footage, Rosler says the suspect walked inside a business, doused a 20-dollar bill with lighter fluid, and used that to light an object on fire. He says at Aldi, a cereal box was lit on fire, at Kroger: a bag of rice, at Dollar General: paper towels, at McDonald’s: a trash can, and at both Dick’s and Plato’s Closet: clothing.
MCSO spokesperson Brent Patterson told News 19 that the sheriff’s office believed Hubbert acted alone. When questioning Hubbert, he is said to have told investigators he “felt led” to set the fires.
Rosler testified that he did not believe Hubbert to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but did suspect mental health issues.
“Certainly the mental health part of it will be something that I believe will be a factor,” said Hubbert’s defense attorney Larry Marsili. “Now, to what extent it will be a factor and what the determination from the experts and the professionals may end up being, I don’t know.”
Online court records show a jury trial has been scheduled for September 11, with a pretrial hearing set for September 8.