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Hiker may have sparked wildfire while trying to burn spider with lighter

Lighter in a pile of leaves
(Image credit: Getty)

A hiker has been charged with starting a 60-acre wildfire while attempting to burn a spider. Cory Allan Martin told authorities at Utah Counties Sheriff's Office that he was attempting to kill the creature with a lighter when he accidentally set some dry brush ablaze.

Martin was arrested on suspicion of reckless burning, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. However, deputies noted that he didn't seem to be high.

“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 (opens in new tab). “There may not be a why. He might not even know a why.”

Backpacker (opens in new tab) reports that the Springville fire began on Monday, and was 90% contained by Wednesday afternoon. Despite the scale of the blaze, there were no reported evacuations, injuries, or damage to structures.

"Um, don't do drugs kids (and don't start spiders on fire during a drought." suggested Utah governor Spencer Cox (opens in new tab) in a tweet.

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Reckless burning

Martin isn't the only hiker accused with sparking a massive fire through reckless burning this summer. It's believed that last month's Flagstaff Pipeline Fire (opens in new tab) in Arizona may have been started by a hiker attempting to burn his toilet paper.

The man was seen walking away from the area soon after the fire was first spotted, and told authorities at a pre-trial hearing that he hadn't realised the paper had continued to smolder overnight. He tried to extinguish the fire using his sleeping bag, but things got out of hand.

The ensuing blaze engulfed thousands of acres of woodland, and required over 700 firefighters to bring under control.

Cat Ellis
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).