Conservation Public Lands & Waters

Utah Man Allegedly Starts a Wildfire While Attempting to Kill a Spider

“It started off really small, almost spider-sized.”
Wildfire in Utah.

Provo Fire & Rescue, Mapleton Fire, and Utah County Fire are assisting Springville Fire on a brush fire on the Springville/Provo border. Provo City

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 26-year-old Cory Allan Martin after he confessed to starting a wildfire while trying to burn a spider. 

On August 1, UCSO deputies responded to a call about a wildland fire that had been started on the Bonneville Shoreline between Springville and Provo, Utah. When the deputies arrived at the site, the fire was roughly the size of a house garage but spreading rapidly.  

“It started off really small, almost spider-sized,” Springville fire chief Henry Clinton told local news. “I’ve never heard that. That’s a first for me in 40 years.”

Martin was on-site when deputies arrived and confessed that he was attempting to burn a spider with his lighter when a bush caught flame. The fire began rapidly spreading up the mountain, according to the probable cause statement. 

“What led him to stop and notice a spider and decide to try to burn it, we don’t know,” UCSO Sgt. Spencer Cannon told CBS News. “There may not be a why. He might not even know a why.” 

After deputies placed Martin in custody, they found a jar of marijuana and paraphernalia in his backpack while searching his belongings.

The UCSO booked Martin for reckless burning, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents. He was released on bail the same evening and is set to appear in court later this month.

Several agencies responded to the fire, including Utah County Fire, Springville Fire, and Provo Fire and Rescue. Heavy rains and aerial support aided fire officials’ efforts to extinguish the fire quickly. 

As of Thursday morning, the Springville Fire had burned roughly 60 acres of land near Springville, Utah, and is 100 percent contained. Fire officials were still monitoring the burn site but expect to reopen closures as soon as the weekend. 

There is currently only one major fire burning in Utah. The Halfway Hill Fire, which has burned roughly 11,700 acres of land north of Cedar City, was started by an abandoned campfire. Law enforcement officials have arrested four suspects on charges of fire abandonment, according to the Millard County Sheriff’s Department

Over 650 fires throughout Utah this season have burned over 25,000 acres. Humans have caused 54 percent of all fires in the state, according to the Utah Fire Dashboard. In addition, prolonged drought conditions are compounding the fire season, with more than 99 percent of the state in a level of severe drought or worse.