Spiders aren’t exactly universally adored, but a Utah resident’s apparent animus toward such a creature recently turned out to be a hot mess.
As reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, the man and his dog were strolling the countryside Monday afternoon. Along the way, they encountered a spider. Presumably, the arachnid was innocently minding its business; the man, nonetheless, brimmed with ill intent.
He chose to not only kill the critter, but to do so in a particularly pernicious way: Perchance for the crime of being creepy, the animal would be ignited.
It was an act that burned with needlessness, and the mountainside would soon join in. While attempting to terminate the spider with a lighter, the man set the land all ablaze.
The fire, reported [around 4:30 p.m.]…moved quickly up the mountain along the border between Springville and Provo…
Per the New York Post, “One of the choppers drew water from a reservoir to dump on the blaze.”
Crews remained on the scene through the night. As of Tuesday afternoon, 60 acres had been scorched.
But the disaster was 90 percent contained — thanks to responders who swooped in like superheroes.
Speaking of — they caught the, uh, blazing-spider man:
The suspect (spotted near the scene by early-arrivers)…told…deputies he had tried “using a lighter to burn a spider” before the fast-moving blaze broke out…
One particular may not be pure coincidence:
Deputies…found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his backpack, department officials said.
Utah County Sergeant Spencer Cannon — who, according to KTVX, was “still scratching his head over the incident” — reflected on regret:
Not sure exactly why he felt the need to need to have to burn the spider but you know, all the regret in the world doesn’t change the outcome based on whatever reason there was for him doing that.
The ravaging result of the gaffe got its own name: the Wildland Fire. The suspect — surely seen by some as a speciesist — got a name, too: “jailbird.” He was “booked into Utah County Jail and is facing a drug possession charge and a reckless burning charge — which carries up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500 dollars.”
Of course, Utah’s arachnid incident isn’t the only anomalous inferno of the past several years. Sparked by the story, the Deseret News recalled other far-out fires:
- In 2017, a Border Patrol agent shot a target filled with colored powder — and Tannerite, an explosive substance — during a [gender reveal party]… The fire would go on to burn over 45,000 acres in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest, causing $8 million in damages and requiring nearly 800 firefighters.
- In 2020, the 3,450-acre Range Fire in Utah County was started by a police officer at the Orem Police Gun Range. … There are typically three ways target shooting can trigger a blaze, according to Utah Fire Info. One of the more common instances is when a bullet strikes a rock and shatters — those fragments can then cause a spark.
- In 2008, a fire was started in Hoodsport, Washington, after a man shot at power lines — and in 2020, multiple fires were sparked in Jackson, Mississippi, after someone shot a utility line, then three days later shot another line.
- [F]ires sparked from horseshoes are rare, but not impossible. Maybe the most high-profile example is a 100-acre blaze triggered near Camp Far West, California in 2002 after a horseshoe sparked on a rock, igniting the surrounding brush. Just two years earlier, the American Fire in Auburn, California, was also caused by sparks from horseshoes. “People who are riding horses need to look behind them,” Tina Rose, a firefighter, told Gold Country Media at the time.
Back to Springville, the calamity even caught the attention of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. On Twitter, he offered youngsters advice:
“Um, don’t do drugs, kids. And don’t start spiders on fire during a drought.”
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