Teamwork: Arachnophobe, spider cause $11K in damage

An attempt to kill a large spider with a torch lighter went awry Sunday when the burning arachnid caused a California apartment fire that forced residents from their homes.

Battalion Chief Rob Pitt in Redding, California said the fire caused moderate damage to the apartment when one of the residents tried to burn a spider to kill it.

Lyndsey Wisegarver said one of the men who lives in the apartment used a torch lighter to kill the spider, which was in an upstairs bedroom

"It was a huge wolf spider," said Wisegarver, who is a caregiver for one of the men living in the apartment.

With the eight-legged creature ablaze it scurried onto a nearby mattress, catching it on fire, she said. They were able to extinguish the fire on the mattress, but it quickly spread to a flag collection and drapes in the bedroom, she said.

The residents tried to put the fire out with a garden hose, but were unsuccessful, fire officials said. The fire caused about $11,000 in damage, officials said.

Pitt said the fire spread to a closet in the bedroom, but firefighters were able to keep it from getting into the attic or neighboring apartments.

All the residents escaped from the building, and no one was injured, Pitt said.

The fire, which started shortly before noon in the 2500 block of Waldon Street in downtown, was extinguished within 20 minutes, Pitt said.

A torch lighter is similar to a regular cigarette lighter but is larger and the flame is under more pressure, Pitt said.

As for Wisegarver and the two men living in the apartment, they are going to have to find another place to live. The unit they were living in is uninhabitable, Pitt said.

Firefighters threw wet clothing and other items out of the building Sunday as they mopped up after the fire.

Wisegarver said they had been thinking for some time they wanted to move out. Sunday's incident just sped up the process, she said.

"We'll make it work," she said.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2018. All Rights Reserved


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