A man determined to kill a spider with a lighter ignited a 60-acre wildfire in drought-stricken Utah, authorities said.
The suspect, who wasn’t immediately identified, was arrested Monday afternoon as 60 acres burned between Springville and Provo. He told responding deputies he had tried “using a lighter to burn a spider” before the fast-moving blaze broke out, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Cory Martin, 26, told police that he spotted the spider on Monday while he was in a hiking area in the foothills south of Salt Lake City near the city of Springville. He acknowledged starting the fire but did not explain why he was trying to burn the spider.
Deputies found a jar of marijuana in his belongings, but he did not appear to be high, said Sgt Spencer Cannon of the Utah county sheriff’s department.
There is no evidence to suggest Martin intentionally started the blaze, said Cannon, but he called it a reckless and puzzling decision. This area and most of Utah are bone dry amid extreme drought conditions.
“What led him to stop and notice a spider and decide to try to burn it, we don’t know,” Cannon said. “There may not be a why. He might not even know a why.”
Martin was arrested on suspicion of reckless burn and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, court documents show. He was being held in jail and it was unknown if he had an attorney.
The wildfire quickly spread up the mountain and had burned less than a square mile as of Tuesday, according to fire officials. No homes had been damaged. The fire did not destroy any buildings or prompt any evacuations, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Two helicopters were also sent to the scene as flames crept up a nearby mountainside. One of the choppers drew water from a reservoir to dump on the blaze, Provo fire officials told the station.
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