New charges were filed against an arson spree suspect in Madison County. Investigators say Nicholas Hubbert is linked to all 10 fires that were intentionally set Saturday. The Madison County Sheriff's Office says Hubbert told investigators he was "led to do it."
Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Payton Daily has dealt with arsonists in the past but said Saturday's arson spree was unlike anything he's seen.
"It's very rare to have somebody set fires, especially businesses, with people inside," Daily said.
The volunteer firefighters were called to a Dollar General on Winchester Road.
"I had no idea there were other fires set across the city of Huntsville and Madison," Daily recalled.
On their way to the scene, 911 dispatchers notified them about a possible suspect linked to several arsons.
"That put it on the next level," he said.
When they got to the scene, the fire was too big for them to go in. Daily said his mind was racing. He wondered if everyone was out of the store, and if not, who was still inside and where could they be.
"I mean, you have 100 different things running through your head," he explained.
Huntsville firefighters on their way to a separate fire on Winchester Road split up to tackle both fires. Daily said the departments worked hand in hand, and after a couple of hours, they were able to get the Dollar General blaze under control.
Daily said it could have been much worse.
"The fire load is very dangerous — paper products, different household chemicals that are flammable," he said. "I mean, you name it, it can be in there, with it being a convenience-type store. It can be very dangerous, especially with us having limited personnel."
Huntsville Fire & Rescue were also tending to nine other fires across Huntsville and Madison, but the fire marshal said there wasn't much for them to do at those scenes, thanks to the quick action of others.
We were "pretty fortunate that, in most cases, people in the stores took action and put the fires out before we got there, so the fires were limited in damage and din't take a lot of resources," Huntsville Fire Marshal Dan Wilkerson said. "Once we got there, we held the scene for investigators, and those crews were freed up to respond to other fires."
All 10 fires were set within a three-hour time period. There were no reported injuries in any of Saturday's fires.
Once a fire is put out, investigators go to the scene to find the origin and cause of the fire. They will go through the scene thoroughly and gather any evidence that might be needed for prosecution.