Season 12 Episode 1

The Night Virginia City Died

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Sep 13, 1970 on NBC

Episode Recap

The Virginia City Fire Department is called out to fight a fire at a local saloon and hotel. Despite their best efforts, the business is destroyed and there are several deaths. The angry townsfolk of Virginia City surmise an arsonist walks among them and demand justice.

Sheriff Roy Coffee and Deputy Clem find a suspect, but he's later proven innocent. But the fires continue, and the patience of Virginia City area residents begins to run short.

Meanwhile, Clem is nurturing his new-found relationship with Janie, a beautiful young woman who has recently come to Virginia City with her aunt. Janie also has been at the scenes of each fire, unusually fascinated at the goings on as the firemen risk their lives to battle each conflagration.

The upshot is, Janie is a pyromaniac. She became fascinated with fire when, as a child, her alcoholic, abusive stepfather died in a fire. So, she goes around setting fires to comfort herself.

But nobody knows this until after Janie is killed in the last fire she sets. Her body is found in the ruins of that last fire, and evidence points to the young woman as being the one behind all the fires. Ben ends up having to comfort the grieving Deputy Clem, who can only wonder why he didn't see how she could be responsible.