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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 ?
``The coalition forces operating near the hotel took fire from the lobby of the hotel and returned fire,'' he said.
It took fire crews nearly three hours to secure the building.
The fire in Industrial Area 6 started at 9.25pm on Saturday and took fire fighters from Sharjah, Ajman and Dubai about an hour to control the blaze, according to Brigadier Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, director of the Sharjah Civil Defence.
It took fire crews 30 minutes to extinguish the flames.
It also took fire crews some time to safely remove the female front-passenger side of the car Both were said to be in a "critical condition" in hospital last night.
It took fire crews until about 1am to mop up the spillage and dispose of it safely.
It took fire crews several hours to control the blaze that damaged a stable block and garage.
It took fire crews several hours to tackle the blaze in the 90ft metal-hulled vessel.
It took fire crews about one hour to knock down the bulk of the fire.
It took fire crews 30 minutes to put out the blaze.
It took fire crews an hour to cut the Polish driver of the Renault from the car after the 6.40am smash.
ARSONISTS yesterday started a forest fire near a North Wales castle, which took fire crews more than three hours to put out.