A person who illegally sets fires to property.

For whatever reason, I've known more arsonists than any other kind of criminal (except vandals, shoplifters, batterers, burglars, embezzlers, bike thieves, and regicides), and they've all had different motives.
  • Max was the dumbest motherfucker I've ever known. He wanted a day off from school, so he gathered a bunch of oily rags from home, broke into the school one night, dumped the rags in a paper-filled wastebasket, set the whole thing on fire, then kicked the trash can down the hallway to spread the damage a little. He bragged about it for the rest of the week and seemed genuinely shocked that the cops discovered his crime. He was just 15, so instead of five years in prison, he spent three years in juvie.

  • Jonathan was a businessman whom I was acquainted with from church when I was a little kid. He had a business that was failing and was reluctant to continue to pay insurance and property taxes on the building. He hired some high school kids to torch his place while he was out of town on vacation. They got caught and eagerly spilled the beans to the police, who arrested Jonathan when he got back into town. He got off fairly easy: three months in jail, five years probation, and a large fine.

  • Gina lived in the dorm where I was an R.A. She got mad at her boyfriend one night while he was out drinking with his buds, got into his room using her spare key, doused his fancy stereo with lighter fluid, and put a match to it. The flames spread to the curtains and would've spread further if one of our quicker-thinking residents hadn't put it out himself. She got six years probation, had to pay fines and restitution, and got kicked out of college. She was lucky, too.

  • Arthur was one of my co-workers at my first radio job. Years after I'd moved away, he killed his wife and set fire to the house to try to cover it all up. The fire spread too fast, and he wasn't able to get his infant son out. He's on death row.

  • Eddie was just a crazy fucking pyro from college. Burned down a couple of warehouses for kicks, ended up in the state pen for 10-12. I hear he's tried to light the prison up, too.

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