It is heavily implied that Count Olaf set fire to the Baudelaire's former abode, but the young heroes' home is not the only one ablaze in the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket's novel series. Who burned down the Quagmire mansion in A Series of Unfortunate Events? The fire that brings Duncan and Isadora to Prufrock Preporatory School in the books is actually seen on the show, and fans get a glimpse of the culprit. There are spoilers, a word which here means details about potentially surprising fictional events, ahead for A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1.
While Lemony Snicket's books do not formally introduce the Quagmire family until The Austere Academy, the Netflix series introduces the children and their parents early on. Unfortunately, that means that we also see the fire that causes the alleged demise of the Quagmire parents and Quigley, one of the triplets. While their face was obscured by a newspaper, we do see that the fire was caused by a single person from their car.
Who was that mysterious person? It likely wasn't Count Olaf. He was busy at the mill pretending to be Shirley. However, he's not the only one after the Baudelaire family and their former VFD associates. Based on the very fashionable depiction of the figure, my guess is that the person who torched the second mansion in the Netflix series is none other than Esme Squalor. Nobody else in the Lemony Snicket universe could pull off those feathers and monochrome gloves.
In the books, this character show up in The Ersatz Elevator, the sixth novel in the series. She is the Baudelaire's latest and extraordinarily trendy guardian who becomes part of a plan to kidnap the two remaining Quagmire triplets. She later becomes Count Olaf's girlfriend, cohort in crime, and for some reason takes a liking to Carmelita Spats, a rude girl that the Baudelaires also met a school.
While the books never confirm who burned down the Quagmire mansion, it wouldn't surprise me if Esme was behind the fire. That also brings her into the story earlier. Hopefully the series gets a second season so that the role of Esme can be cast. I'd love to see someone like Lucy Liu, Salma Hayek, Christina Hendricks, Jada Pinkett Smith, or Sarah Michelle Gellar in the part.
Another guess is Geraldine Julianne, a reporter for The Daily Punctillio whose character seems to have been combined with Eleanora Poe in the Netflix series. There are also plenty of other mysteries surrounding this event, which has been expanded on in the Netflix series. Who kidnapped Mr. and Mrs. Quagmire in the first place? Did they manage to tell their children anything before they perished? A Series Of Unfortunate Events plunges you into its strange, literary universe, and the Quagmires are one of the most intriguing mysteries.