An Argiope, a brown and white spider, on a web.
Spiders are found on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica. (Photo: Ed van duijn/Unsplash)

A Hiker Tried to Burn a Spider. He Allegedly Sparked a Wildfire Instead.

“Um, don’t do drugs kids (and don’t start spiders on fire during a drought),” Utah governor Spencer Cox tweeted Tuesday

An Argiope, a brown and white spider, on a web.

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Here are some safety tips every adventurer should know: always tell someone where you’re going, pack extra layers of clothing, and never try to kill a spider with a lighter—you might start a wildfire.

A man is accused of doing just that during a hike east of Springville, Utah, on Monday. Cory Allan Martin, 26, told law enforcement he accidentally set some brush aflame while trying to torch a spider, ABC4 Utah reported. Deputies also found a jar of marijuana among Martin’s belongings, but he did not appear to be high, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office told the Associated Press. Martin has been charged with reckless burning and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.

The Springville fire spread to about 60 acres and was 90 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Utah Fire Info. Crews from Provo Fire and Rescue, Mapleton Fire, and Utah County Fire worked on the ground while helicopters dropped water on the blaze. No injuries, evacuations, or damaged structures were reported.

“What led him to stop and notice a spider and decide to try to burn it, we don’t know,” Sergeant Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office told ABC4. “There may not be a why. He might not even know a why.”

Martin, who was booked into the Utah County jail on Monday afternoon, has since posted bail. The status of the arachnid he was allegedly after remains unclear.

Utah governor Spencer Cox tweeted some sage advice in response to the incident, writing, “Um, don’t do drugs kids (and don’t start spiders on fire during a drought).”

Nearly 85 percent of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, according to the National Park Service. The agency cites unattended campfires, equipment malfunctions, discarded cigarettes, and intentional arson as common causes. Apparently bug burners are atypical culprits.

The accused fire starter has received understandable heat on social media, but some sympathetic arachnophobes see his side of things. “Charge the spider,” one person suggested.

Lead Photo: Ed van duijn/Unsplash

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