Criminal Minds: Season 4, Episode 19

House on Fire (25 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 347 users  
Reviews: 1 user

When the kill count of a mass-murdering arsonist active in a small town reaches 31, the BAU are called in.


(as Felix Alcala)


(created by), , 1 more credit »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $1.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 237 titles
created 14 Jan 2012
a list of 878 titles
created 29 Mar 2012
a list of 4248 titles
created 06 Apr 2012
a list of 41 titles
created 31 Mar 2013

Related Items

Search for "House on Fire" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: House on Fire (25 Mar 2009)

House on Fire (25 Mar 2009) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Criminal Minds.
« Previous Episode | 84 of 226 Episodes | Next Episode »


1 video »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Tina Wheeler
Dr Rawlings
Tommy Wheeler
Fire Captain Danny Wales
Chief Tom Schultz


A serial arsonist is active in Royal, Indiana. The arsonist went from setting fires in unoccupied buildings to largely populated ones. In the last two fires - in a community center and a movie theater - the death count reaches 31 people. The BAU realize that they have to tread lightly as they suspect the unsub to be a local, and with Royal being a small town, anyone they question will be the target of a public witch hunt. And with the high death count in such a small town, determining if there is a specific victimology is made more difficult. The arsonist strikes again when the BAU least expects. Because the latest fire is different than the previous ones, they believe the last fire is the one that holds the key to understanding the motivation and finding the perpetrator. This case is especially difficult for Garcia, who is asked to do things outside of her normal duties. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

25 March 2009 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The fire in the movie theater may be a play on the title of the paraphrasing of Oliver Wendell Holmes' "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" 1919 opinion. See more »


The physician refers to "the burn unit in Gary." If the town of "Royal, Indiana" is indeed near Franklin, then it is much, much closer to Indianapolis than Gary, and patients needing a transfer to a burn unit would go to one of the numerous hospitals there. See more »


Aaron Hotchner: [opening quotation, voiceover] Tennessee Williams said "We all live in a house on fire. No fire department to call, no way out."
See more »


Features The Blob (1958) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Sins of Omission
7 November 2010 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Having one's episode to follow an instant classic like "Omnivore" must have been viewed as a no-win situation. Network shows that have 20+ episodes per year have a tight filming schedule, so multiple scripts are being written simultaneously and the episodes might even be filmed in different order than broadcast. In any case, one sympathizes with the writer and director of this otherwise worthy episode.

There is a lot to recommend this episode: great concept, excellent guest roles from some of the best supporting actors around, Michael Rooker, who's proved he's more than just Henry, and Sam Anderson, probably best known as Bernard from Lost, but a familiar face to practically everyone who watches TV. And while the word 'recommend' feels uneasy when applied to the scene that *will* linger in your mind like a similar scene in Se7en (I won't spoil it), it means the creators have achieved something memorable. Reduced to its core idea, the back-story of the arsonist is ripped straight out of real world, which makes it all the more frightening and thought-provoking. It is even voiced out by Reid at three quarters into the episode.

However, this episode is also written straight into the Criminal Minds mold that gets pretty distracting and downright insulting when forced upon the viewer the umpteenth time: Needless editing tricks, scenes of the killer shot out of focus, overlays of the events upon the BAU agents at the scene of said event, lectures given to the local police - all these could be at least used more sparingly, and in the case of the overlays, eliminated entirely, because unintentional as it may be, showing what happened earlier while simultaneously showing the agents explaining what happened is insulting the audience's intelligence. Less is more. The writers and directors need look no further than the classic episodes of this very series. This could have been a 8/10 (clichés in the story out-ruling a 9/10), now it's "just" 7/10 (still very good).

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
so rossi just.... lil_legend
Damn, they killed off Jason Gideon!? sda721
Young David Rossi itisnotme
Nelson's Sparrow jeremy-harold13
Confession time. Who here reads fanfiction? yanderedillion
loving this episode so far.. savinggraceklp-741-578409
Discuss House on Fire (2009) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: