My “Favorite” Arson Case

“Court Case Friday”

I presided over a hearing in an interesting arson case.

A fire was started at night at a home in a residential neighborhood in Westminster, California. When the fire department responded to the 911 call, the house was fully engulfed in flames.   Ashes and embers were floating all over the neighborhood.

When the firefighters finally went into the backyard, they saw a body lying face up on the grass.  They assumed the person was dead.  They were startled when the “body” suddenly moved.

A young man was lying on his back, wide-eyed, breathing heavily, and totally mesmerized by the sparks and burning embers that were falling all around him. 

They had found the arsonist.  They also found a pyromaniac.


“Pyromania” is a psychological disorder characterized by a compulsion to set fires or explosives in order to relieve built up tension or gain instant gratification. “Pyro” comes from the Greek word “pyr” for “fire.”

During arson fires, firefighters and investigators scan the spectators to see if any of them appear to be too “into” the flames.

(See: “Pyromania,” Wikipedia)


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