A 60-acre wildfire erupted Monday through parts of north-central Utah after a man walking his dog carrying marijuana and drug paraphernalia attempted to burn a spider to death.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said upon arriving at the fire east of Springville around 5:00 p.m. that they saw the suspect, who was not immediately identified, walking his dog in the area, per KTVX.
Authorities arrested the suspect after he confessed that he accidentally started the fire while using a lighter to burn a spider.
“Not sure exactly why he felt the need to have to burn the spider,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon told KSL. “But you know, all the regret in the world doesn’t change the outcome based on whatever reason there was for him doing that.”
Following his arrest, authorities found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his backpack.
“In this case, his actions were more than, ‘Oops, I accidentally started a fire,’” Cannon told KUTV. “It was reckless to do what he was doing in the way he was doing it.”
“I’m not sure why he felt the need to burn the spider,” Cannon added.
KTVX reported authorities arrested and booked the man into jail on drug possession and reckless burning charges, which could result in him serving up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Captain Sam Armstrong of Provo Fire told KTVX that officials were called about a “mountainside fire” just before 5:00 p.m.
While fire crews battled the fire on the ground, authorities sent two helicopters, with one drawing water from a reservoir, to the scene as the flames blazed through the area.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a rainstorm swept through the area after about four hours of battling the blaze, reducing the fire’s heat. Crews monitored hotspots throughout the night.
Nearby residents of Springville, which has a population of approximately 33,000, said they could see the mountainside fire burning and inching closer to many houses.
Governor Spencer Cox weighed in on Twitter with his thoughts on the so-called accident.
“Um, don’t do drugs kids (and don’t start spiders on fire during a drought),” Cox tweeted.
Utah currently faces severe to exceptional drought conditions, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.
“Since 2000, the longest duration of drought (D1–D4) in Utah lasted 288 weeks beginning on April 3, 2001, and ending on October 3, 2006,” the Center’s website reads. “The most intense period of drought occurred the week of January 19, 2021, where D4 affected 69.99% of Utah land.”
Authorities reported the fire did not threaten any structures or prompt evacuations.