Arson is the crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 of intentionally or maliciously setting fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

 to structures or wildland areas. It may be distinguished from other causes such as spontaneous combustion
Spontaneous combustion
Spontaneous combustion is the self-ignition of a mass, for example, a pile of oily rags. Allegedly, humans can also ignite and burn without an obvious cause; this phenomenon is known as spontaneous human combustion....

 and natural wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s. Arson often involves fires deliberately set to the property of another or to one's own property as to collect insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

Arson (or fire-raising, as it is known in Scotland) is defined as "the malicious burning of the dwelling of another" in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...


The elements are:
  1. The malicious
  2. burning
  3. of a dwelling
  4. of another
malicious - for purposes of common law arson "malicious' means action creating a great risk of a burning.