IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

A man was trying to burn a spider, but he sparked a Utah fire instead, officials say

Sheriff's officials said Cory Allan Martin, 26, was also arrested on a charge of marijuana possession but didn't appear to be high.

A Utah wildfire that erupted in summer heat and relatively dry conditions may have been started by a man who was trying to burn a spider with a lighter, authorities said.

The Springville Fire started about 5 p.m. Monday and consumed 60 acres of federal land east of Springville, part of metropolitan Provo, before state fire officials declared Tuesday that it was 90 percent contained.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday it arrested Cory Allan Martin, 26, of nearby Draper, on suspicion of starring the fire, possessing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Image:
Firefighters battle a wildfire from the ground Monday as a helicopter drops water above them in Springville, Utah.Kristin Murphy / The Deseret News via AP

Sheriff's officials said firefighters encountered the man on a mountain slope. He told them he started the blaze, and they walked him to deputies, they said.

"Cory stated he found a spider on the mountain and was attempting to burn the spider with a lighter," according to a sheriff's affidavit filed to support the arrest.

"When he attempted to burn the spider, the surrounding brush ignited and the fire began spreading very rapidly," the document said.

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

Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the suspect didn't appear to be under the influence of marijuana when he spoke to deputies, two of whom separately received the same story.

"There was no indication Mr. Martin was heavily under the influence of drugs," he said by email. "He was quiet and not very talkative, but that is not unusual when one finds they are the focus of a criminal investigation."

Martin was released from jail sometime Tuesday. Bail had been set at $2,000. It wasn't clear whether he had a lawyer for the case. A public defender's association in the area didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sheriff's officials said that the fire started near the bottom of the mountain mentioned in the affidavit and that it quickly burned its way to the top, prompting multiple fire agencies and air units to respond.

State fire officials said their battle was aided by rain overnight that reduced the blaze's interior heat.

The sheriff's office said it forwarded its case against Martin to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, which will ultimately decide whether he will be charged.