Man trying to burn a spider accused of starting a Utah fire

A Utah wildfire that broke out amid summer heat and relatively dry conditions may have been started by a man trying to burn a spider with a lighter, authorities said.

The Springville fire started around 5 p.m. Monday and consumed 60 acres of state east of Springville, part of the Provo metropolitan area, before state fire department officials said Tuesday it was 90 percent contained.

On Tuesday, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said it had arrested 26-year-old Cory Allan Martin of nearby Draper on suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia in starting the fire.

Firefighters are battling a wildfire from the ground in Springville, Utah Monday as a helicopter dumps water over them.Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP

Sheriff’s officers said firefighters encountered the man on a mountainside. He told them he started the fire and they took him to the deputies, they said.

“Cory stated that he found a spider on the mountain and tried to burn the spider with a lighter,” said a sheriff’s affidavit filed in support of the arrest.

“When he tried to burn the spider, the surrounding scrub caught fire and the fire spread very quickly,” the document said.

Martin was arrested and his belongings were searched, sheriff’s officers said. A jar of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found, they claimed in the affidavit.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the suspect did not appear to be under the influence of marijuana when he spoke to deputies, two of whom were separately given the same story.

“There was no evidence that Mr. Martin was heavily under the influence of drugs,” he said via email. “He was quiet and not very talkative, but that’s not unusual when you realize you’re at the center of a criminal investigation.”

The man was detained but released sometime Tuesday. Bail was set at $2,000. It was not clear if Martin had an attorney on the case. An association of public defenders in the area did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sheriff’s officials said the fire started near the base of the mountain mentioned in the affidavit and quickly made its way up, prompting multiple fire departments and air units to respond.

Officials with the state fire department said their fight was aided by overnight rain, which reduced the internal heat of the fire.

The sheriff’s office said it has referred its case against Martin to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, which will ultimately determine whether to charge him.

Associated Press contributed. Man trying to burn a spider accused of starting a Utah fire

Fry Electronics Team

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