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Intentional wrongful setting of fires and possession of explosives is governed by state criminal laws, which vary by state. Federal laws also govern possession of explosives, such as on an airplane. Arson is committed when a person intentionally damages a building by starting or maintaining a fire or causing an explosion. The arsonist's knowledge or suspicion that a person may occupy the building when it is on fire will heighten the seriousness of the charge. Arson may be committed by an act of recklessness which results in a fire.
An explosive is any chemical compound or mechanical mixture that is commonly used or intended for the purpose of producing an explosion and which contains any oxidizing and combustive units or other ingredients in such proportions, quantities or packing that an ignition by fire, by friction, by concussion, by detonator or by chemical action of any part of the compound or mixture may cause a sudden generation of highly heated gases that the resulting gaseous pressures are capable of producing destructive effects on nearby objects or of destroying life or limb.