The precise cause of the fire has never been established and no one was ever charged for setting it. The mystery of the fire has been a large debate in the series fandom for a long time. One must also remember that there are three continuities (book, movie and TV series) so the reason for the fire may differ in all of them.
One major theory behind the fire is Count Olaf. Olaf has a history of starting similar fires and admits to being guilty of "arson." His possible motives include getting the Baudelaire fortune and taking revenge on Beatrice and Bertrand Baudelaire for murdering his own parents a few years earlier. However, in The End, Olaf seemed to deny his involvement; when Klaus accused him of starting the fire, he only answered, "Is that what you think?" after a long pause, and then after Sunny says, "We know it," he responds, "You don't know anything." As Olaf tends to brag about his crimes, it's probable that he was not involved.
Another possibility is that the arsonists were the Man With a Beard But No Hair and the Woman with Hair but No Beard or Esmé Squalor. It is also possible that another member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. is responsible.
There is also a theory that the fire-fighting side may have set the fire in an attempt to orphan the Baudelaires and recruit them; while this may seem far-fetched, it should be noted that VFD recruits by kidnapping, and it is noted that the Denouement triplets were recruited without their parents' knowledge, and the house suspiciously burnt down after the boys were taken.
Another possibility is that the fire was a pure accident instead of arson, as the Baudelaires are shown to have extremely bad luck. This may be the cause in the book canon only, as the movie and TV series canons imply arson. For example, the fire may have been caused by one of Violet's inventions malfunctioning. In the book The Bad Beginning, Violet mentions she is inept at cooking and sometimes burns toast.
Arthur Poe claims the fire killed both the Baudelaire parents (Bertrand and Beatrice), although there is no mention of their bodies being found, leaving the Baudelaire children to later suspect one of them may be alive.The three Baudelaire children were not home at the time and thus escaped the fire. They were encouraged by their parents to go to Briny Beach that day. If the Baudelaire parents were aware that the fire would occur, they were unable - or chose not - to save themselves, despite the mansion having a secret passageway to 667 Dark Avenue.
Page 13 of the Snicket File state that "experts now suspect that there may, in fact, be one survivor of the fire". However, it is not stated which "fire" the page refers to. The Baudelaire children initially believed that the file referred to the fire that consumed their house because the page also had a photo of their parents and had been filed under "Baudelaire". Quigley Quagmire believes that the sentence is referring to his survival of the fire which destroyed his own home and killed his parents. Neither theory is ever confirmed.
It is unclear if Kit Snicket was aware of the Snicket File, but she believed the Baudelaire parents to be dead since she refers to the Baudelaire children "losing their parents."
The Bad Beginning: Rare Edition makes reference to a survivor of a fire hiding within the City's Fountain of Victorious Finance, but it does not confirm the individual's identity; as well as this, in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, it is revealed that a survivor was hidden on the set of Zombies in the Snow, waiting for the Baudelaire orphans to arrive. However, they had to leave after realizing that Monty Montgomery did not receive the message.
Masked Ball TheoryA major theory is that Beatrice survived the fire, but died later in a fire at the masked ball held by the Duchess of Winnipeg. This theory builds on the mentions of a survivor in The Bad Beginning: Rare Edition and Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, as well as the fact Beatrice, as a former Volunteer, would have known about the passageway from her home to 667 Dark Avenue.
It is also said that Lemony Snicket tried to contact Beatrice and deliver a message about Olaf at a masked ball, and he says he had been attempting to deliver said message for fifteen years; if Lemony and Beatrice split up very soon before she arrived on The Island with Bertrand and found herself pregnant with Violet, that would leave about fifteen years inbetween the breakup and events of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The Duchess says that following her masked ball, in which Lemony was captured, her house was burnt down; she also mentions Beatrice had some belongings in the mansion.
An addition to this theory is that she may have escaped the Duchess Fire and ended up at Heimlich Hospital, as Carrie E. Abelabudite, an anagram of "Beatrice Baudelaire", is on the patient list. This could imply she perished in the Heimlich Hospital Fire.
This theory would mean that Beatrice escaped the fire, attempted to reunite with her children, but perished in the Duchess's burning house before making her survival known. This theory, though popular, has never been confirmed. It is non-canon in the TV Series, as in that timeline, the masked ball occurred before the birth of the Baudelaire children.
2004 Film Divergent Canon
| I am NOT a MONKEY!
The following article or section concerns information that is considered even less canonical than the chance of a happy ending. Any information following should not be used as a source for the canon of the book series.
TV Series Divergent Canon
A fashionable woman speculated to be Esmé Squalor is seen setting the Quagmire Mansion on fire. Esmé held a grudge against Beatrice, saying, "I want to steal from you the way Beatrice stole from me." This has led fans to theorize that Esmé is responsible, but that was seemingly debunked when later in the series when, firstly, Esmé claims to Olaf that she did not start the fire,, and secondly, Gustav Sebald was showing disguises and one of them was the same outfit worn by who burned down the Quagmire Mansion, labelled the "arsonist disguise." Later in the show the Man with a Beard but No Hair and the Woman with Hair but No Beard said that they tried to keep the Quagmire parents at Peru, hinting that they set the Quagmire Fire.
- The fire was sketched by Brett Helquist. He described the remains of the house he drew including "a glass bottle, portions of a grand piano, a few charred pieces of green wood" and "the remains of a tea set"; This same sketch is later seen as an illustration in The Bad Beginning."
- The 2004 Calendar of Unfortunate Events says that the fire "allegedly" happened March 31. However, as Gustav Sebald was not reported murdered until January 10, and the children are transferred to Monty only a short time after their parents' death, this is likely untrue.
- ↑ PROSE: The End
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 PROSE: Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
- ↑ PROSE: The Penultimate Peril
- ↑ PROSE: The Bad Beginning
- ↑ PROSE: The Bad Beginning: Rare Edition
- ↑ PROSE: The Ersatz Elevator
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 PROSE: The Hostile Hospital
- ↑ PROSE: The Slippery Slope
- ↑ PROSE: The Austere Academy
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 TV: The Carnivorous Carnival: Part One
- ↑ FILM: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events[non-canon]
- ↑ TV: The Ersatz Elevator: Part Two
- ↑ TV: The Slippery Slope: Part One