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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Yonhap said Seoul officials see it highly likely that Pyongyang will fire off a missile or missiles around April 15 to mark the birthday of founding leader Kim Il Sung, the current ruler Kim Jong Un's grandfather.
CUTLINE: (1) Leicester Firefighter David Howard hoses down hot spots in the woods as firefighters from Leicester, Holden, Paxton and Rutland battle a one-acre brush fire off Route 56 in Leicester around 4:45 p.m.
KHARTOUM: Nearly 200 African migrants were feared drowned Tuesday after a boat carrying them to Saudi Arabia caught fire off Sudan's northeastern coast, a semiofficial news agency reported.
He remembered they had been arguing and he had pulled the fire off the wall.
The letter inspired me to dabble into the politics of skateboarding, if only to fire off a couple of questions about another frequently mishandled skate issue.
With a one shot session, I can walk outside, fire off a bull's-eye and walk back in knowing "I've still got it." Thanks for the advice.
That hardly slowed them down--they remained confident enough, after their latest stunt, to fire off a media advisory and make themselves available for interviews.
THE skipper of a Scots cargo boat last night told how he feared for his life - after an American warship opened fire off the Scottish coast.
To a large degree, psychologists say, teenagers are being tripped up by the same property of the Internet that has compelled many adults to fire off an e-mail message they later regret: the ability to press "send" and watch it disappear makes it seem less real.
He and his motley crew fire off ideas like a bag of Jiffy Pop in the microwave, and it would seem Dave's biggest problem is whether to wed the beautiful college professor or the gorgeous heiress.
But before you fire off a complaint letter to your car dealer, take a breath.