Criminal Minds Wiki

An Arsonist, as the name suggests, is a person who commits arson. When an arsonist sets multiple fires in multiple locations with a "cooling-off period" between the incidents, it is called Serial Arsonist.

Typology and Motivations of Arsonists/Serial Arsonists

  1. Profit-Motivated - Arson may be committed for financial gaining (e.g. insurance fraud, stealing of fire resistant plumbing and fixtures,...). It can involve "white collar criminals" or conventional ones.
  2. Revenge - Arson may be committed out of spite or jealously, as a means of getting even. Usually, a revenge arsonist is a violent personal criminal acting out strong emotions.
  3. Vandalism - Arson may be an expression of hatred toward a particular group or individual, or a form of play activity. It is usually associated with occasional property offenders.
  4. Crime Concealment - Arson may be a way to dispose of murder victims or physical evidence, or to divert attention from a crime being committed elsewhere. It can involve occasional property offenders, corporate offenders or organized ones.
  5. Sabotage - Arson may be committed during labor or racial strife, prison riots, or other civil disturbances. It is usually associated with political criminality.
  6. Excitement - Arson may be committed by pyromaniacs, individuals who have a morbid fascination with setting and observing fires. Freudians would assign a sexual basis to pyromania, in which such individuals experience erotic satisfaction by means of arson. It is usually associated with psychotic or psychopathic offenders.
  7. Hero Syndrome - Arson may be committed by individuals affected by Hero Syndrome. It is usually associated with firefighter arson.

On Criminal Minds

Real World


Under U.S. Law, arson in any form by an adult is a felony. Juveniles, in the past, have been charged with the misdemeanor "Malicious Mischief", but this has changed in recent times. Depending on the nature of the associated crime, Felony Arson may punishable by life in prison (20 to Life).


  • Only 12% of serial arsonists are female.
  • Only 7% use gasoline and matches to start fires.
  • Most serial arsonists do not intend to cause death, just set fires. Usually, any death caused by the arson fire is accidental.


  1. With the exception of Evan Abby killing Vincent Stiles, all of the arsons committed by Abby and the EDF were non-violent.