Man who tried to kill spider by setting it alight accidentally starts flat fire 'after burning arachnid runs under mattress'

Blaze leaves apartment uninhabitable after causing £8,000 in damage

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 09 January 2018 14:18
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Firefighters in the aftermath of an apartment fire in the Californian city of Redding
Firefighters in the aftermath of an apartment fire in the Californian city of Redding

A man who tried to kill a spider by setting it alight accidentally started an apartment fire after the burning arachnid reportedly ran under a mattress.

Fire fighters in Redding, northern California, battled the blaze for 20 minutes on Sunday after residents tried and failed to put the flames out with a garden hose.

A witness living in the flat told local newspaper the Redding Record Searchlight that a resident used a torch lighter – a cigarette lighter with a powerful flame – to burn “a huge wolf spider” in an upstairs bedroom.

While on fire the creature ran under a mattress and set it ablaze, Lyndsey Wisegarver, a carer for one of the men living in the flat, told the newspaper. She said it quickly spread to a flag collection and drapes.

All the residents living in the building escaped and no one was injured, Redding Fire Department chief Rob Pitt said.

It is unclear if the spider survived.

How to keep spiders out of your house

Although the blaze was quickly extinguished, it caused around £8,000 in damage ($11,000). Mr Pitt said fire fighters were able to keep it from spreading to neighbouring apartments.

Ms Wisegarver and the two men living in the apartment were told it was uninhabitable and that they would have to find another place to live.

She told the newspaper they had been keen to move out anyway. “We’ll make it work,” she said.

Wolf spiders can grow up to the size of a human hand, though many sub-species are much smaller. Its venom is considered dangerous to humans, though generally non-lethal.

Redding Fire Department has been contacted for comment.

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