71-year-old Naperville man charged with arson in tent fire

  • James Povolo, 71, of the 1300 block of Dartford Court in Naperville, has been charged with arson in connection with the July 18 fire that burned the tent of Scott Huber, a Naperville squatter who has lived outside for nearly 15 years in self-proclaimed protest against city officials.

    James Povolo, 71, of the 1300 block of Dartford Court in Naperville, has been charged with arson in connection with the July 18 fire that burned the tent of Scott Huber, a Naperville squatter who has lived outside for nearly 15 years in self-proclaimed protest against city officials. Courtesy of Naperville police

 
 
Updated 7/27/2016 6:46 PM

A 71-year-old Naperville man has been charged with arson, accused of setting fire to a tent belonging to a well-known Naperville squatter, authorities said Wednesday.

James Povolo, of the 1300 block of Dartford Court, has been charged with one felony count of arson and is free after posting $2,500 bail, authorities said. He turned himself in to Naperville police Tuesday afternoon after a $25,000 warrant was issued for his arrest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The fire, about 2 p.m. July 18, burned the tent of Scott Huber, who has been camping outside in various Naperville locations for nearly 15 years in a self-proclaimed protest of what he perceives as wrongdoing by city officials, whom he blames for the loss of his home, business and property.

Authorities said Povolo knew Huber was not inside the tent when he set it on fire just south of the Mobil gas station at Ogden Avenue and Naper Boulevard, destroying the dwelling and its contents.

Naperville police on July 21 released images of the suspect, a white man about 6 feet tall between 50 and 60 years old with gray or white hair, and of his car, a Hyundai of an unknown model.

Their investigation led them to Povolo.

Authorities would not say Wednesday whether Povolo knew Huber or how Povolo knew the squatter was not inside the tent when he started the blaze.

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Near a largely residential area in addition to the gas station, the fire could have been much worse, authorities said.

"An open fire in close proximity to a gas station could have quickly turned into a very dangerous situation," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a news release. "Thankfully no one was injured."

Naperville firefighters who put out the blaze said they found propane tanks inside the tent venting gas under a large amount of pressure. Their response blocked traffic for a time on Naper Boulevard while they set up a hose line from an engine to douse the flames.

Povolo has a court date scheduled for Aug. 30 in front of DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan.

In April 2004, he had two orders of protection filed against him by his daughter, son-in-law and their two minor children, DuPage court records show. The orders of protection were vacated and the case was dropped in June 2004.

• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this report.

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