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Officials continue to piece together the series of events surrounding 10 intentionally set fires at Huntsville-area businesses. Meanwhile, the affected businesses are trying to figure out what to do next.
"It's not just going to damage that business but our community, because we need these businesses to build up Huntsville in general, and if people are trying to bog them down, we're not going to be able to grow from that," said a business owner in Huntsville.
Officials say they now believe 10 fires were intentionally set Saturday night across Madison County. The 10 fires under investigation took place at:
- 4851 Whitesburg Drive, Plato's Closet;
- 1795 US Highway 72 East, McDonald's;
- 2125 Winchester Road Northeast, ALDI;
- 125 Winchester Road Northeast, Dollar General;
- 6070 Moores Mill Road, Kroger;
- 6140 University Drive, Walmart;
- 2718 Carl T Jones Drive Southeast, Dick's Sporting Goods;
- 8000 Madison Boulevard, Publix;
- 8020 Madison Boulevard, Champy's Famous Fried Chicken; and
- 1604 Winchester Road, Dollar General.
Huntsville Police say 24-year-old Nicholas Tremaine Hubbert is now behind bars, charged with arson in connection to at least one of those fires. The Madison Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office and Huntsville Fire Marshal said Hubbert is a suspect in all 10 fires.
WAAY-31 spoke with business owners and people who were impacted. Staff at one business said they were able to put their fire out and actually help catch the culprit.
"It was a pretty full bar and not something you'd expect when you're running a restaurant on a busy Saturday night," said Eugene Jung, owner of Champy's Fried Chicken.
Jung and his crew were working Saturday night like normal, when they say a man came in and said he wanted to use their restroom. Moments later, Jung's employee told him there was a fire in the bathroom.
"I didn't know whether to believe her or not," Jung said. "So, I walked over to the bathroom and opened the door, and there's a 4-foot flame coming out of the trash can."
The fires were all started the same night. Now, surrounding businesses are fearing they could be next.
"Knowing that somebody could do this in our community and is affecting our businesses is not something nice to hear," said a business owner in Huntsville.
Some business owners said it feels like they can't win, with the Covid-19 pandemic and now someone setting businesses on fire.
"We're all trying to recover from this, and that's just one more thing that's setting a lot of these businesses back," one business said.
Plato's Closet was forced to close due to the damage, and several witnesses told WAAY-31 they're nervous about what happened.
Jung's staff says they provided Hubbert's license plate to police shortly before he was apprehended, and Jung is thankful no one was harmed or injured.
"Fortunately, our staff stayed pretty calm and reacted appropriately, and we were able to help ... catch the guy," Jung said.
Hubbert remained in jail Monday with bail set at $60,000. Huntsville PD said more charges are pending.