The spokesman for Medicine Bow National Forest is warning visitors to avoid lighting spiders on fire, at least outside of a fire ring, or else they could cause a wildfire like a Utah man did this week.
“That’s a first, I’ve never heard of that one,” forest spokesman Aaron Voos told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “You should definitely not try and burn spiders. We can all learn from that.”
On Monday, a Utah man saw a spider while hiking in Springville, Utah, according to the Deseret News. For an unknown reason, he attempted to light the spider on fire and sparked a 60-acre wildfire.
Cory Martin, 26, was arrested on suspicion of reckless burn and possession of marijuana after police discovered a jar of the drug in his belongings. The fire had been 90% contained as of late Tuesday.
Voos said in Medicine Bow National Forest, the most common types of fires are caused by unattended, or neglected, campfires.
According to the National Park Service, around 85% of wildfires are caused by humans, either through negligence (such as leaving a campfire unattended or discarding a still-lit cigarette) or arson.
“Any sort of scenario where you are responsible for an ignition source, whether it’s a lighter to burn a spider or a chainsaw or a car muffler, you’re responsible for your actions,” Voos said. “You need to utilize that ignition source safely. You need to be aware of any fire restrictions. It’s very important that you follow basic guidelines.”
Voos said the only way burning a spider would have been (technically) OK is if the arachnid had been inside of a fire ring, which is established to keep campfires from spreading.
A human-caused wildfire, the Sugarloaf Fire, is currently burning within Medicine Bow and has grown to 839 acres as of Wednesday.
Voos did not say whether he believed the fire was caused by a person attempting to burn a spider or any other insect, only that the source of the fire was still under investigation.