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The primary result of combustion. The juridical meaning does not differ from the vernacular meaning.

It is a crime to burn certain types of property under particular circumstances, both under the Common Law and a number of state statutes. Some of these crimes are regarded as Arson, but ordinarily, arson relates specifically to buildings and their contents.

The act of willfully and maliciously setting fire to property belonging to another person—such as stacks of hay or grain, grasses, fences, or wood—is ordinarily punishable as a misdemeanor. Some jurisdictions grade the offense as a felony.

Statutes relating to fires ordinarily define the acts required for conviction. Under these statutes, willfully is defined as meaning with an evil or malicious intent or malevolent motive.

An individual who willfully or negligently sets fire to his or her own woods, prairie land, or other specified areas might be guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, it is a misdemeanor to burn such areas without first giving proper notice to adjacent landowners or for an individual to allow a fire kindled on his or her wood or prairie to escape and burn adjoining property.

Some statutes relate to burning cultivated ground. Such legislation exists to prevent disastrous fires, and they do not apply to ordinary acts of agriculture that are properly conducted, such as the setting of fire to an area of land to prepare for planting.

Under some statutes that prohibit or regulate the setting of fires, a monetary penalty is imposed on people who violate their provisions. Frequently an agency—such as a state board of forest park preservation commissioners—is named specifically in the statute to bring an action to collect the penalty. Some statutes impose liability on an individual who allows fire to escape from his or her own property even though such escape is not willful, while other statutes provide that a landowner who sets a fire as a result of necessity—such as a back fire used to subdue another fire—will not be held liable. An individual is usually free from liability when he or she is lawfully burning something on his or her own farm and the fire accidentally spreads to an adjacent farm or woods.

There is civil liability for damages at common law imposed upon anyone who willfully and intentionally sets a fire. Some statutes under which criminal liability is imposed for setting certain types of fires also make express provisions that the individual whose property is damaged by the fire may initiate a civil action to recover any loss. Generally, the limit of damages is the loss actually incurred by the fire. Some statutes, however, provide for the recovery of double or treble damages.


(Burn), verb conflagrate, deflagrate, heat, ignite, incandesce, inflame, kindle, light, scorch, singe, warm
Associated concepts: Fire Act, Firefighter's Rule, Fireman's Rule


(Discharge), verb depose, dismiss, expel, lay off, remove, stimulate, terminate, torrefy


(Stimulate), verb animate, arouse, electrify, enliven, excite, foster, goad, incite, inspirit, quicken, rouse, spur, stir
See also: ardor, barrage, burn, conflagration, deflagrate, depose, discharge, dismiss, foment, life, passion, provoke, remove, spirit, stimulate, supplant
References in classic literature ?
They carried this expedition so secretly, that the unwary inhabitants did not discover them, until they fired upon the forts; and, not being prepared to oppose them, were obliged to surrender themselves miserable captives to barbarous savages, who immediately after tomahawked one man and two women, and loaded all the others with heavy baggage, forcing them along toward their towns, able or unable to march.
The old gentleman uniformly gave a little start whenever his long-sided brother fired in his direction; and this being observed by his companion, he very good-naturedly turned his artillery to another quarter, and proceeded to storm one of the fire-irons with a degree of military talent fully sufficient to take a city.
I intimated this, gently, to the king, and it fired his curiosity When the Board was assembled, I followed him in; and behind us came the candidates.
A very cold BZZZZZZZZEEE accompanied the storm, and made our position far from pleasant; and presently came a flash of BLITZEN, apparently in the middle of our little party, with an instantaneous clap of YOKKY, sounding like a large gun fired close to our ears; the effect was startling; but in a few seconds our attention was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder against the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us.
Oh, a LOT of people WE never heard of before - the shoemaker and horse-doctor and knife-grinder kind, you know - clodhoppers from goodness knows where that never handled a sword or fired a shot in their lives - but the soldiership was in them, though they never had a chance to show it.