Matthew Diebel, 27 September 2015

 Couldn’t he just have flicked it away?

A man with an apparent case of arachnophobia caused a fire at a suburban Detroit gas station by putting a lighter to what he says was a spider near his fuel door.

After he pulled up, “That’s when he pulled the lighter out of his pocket and lit it and started the fire,” station clerk Susan Adams told local media on Saturday.

The man, who was not identified, escaped injury and his vehicle suffered little damage, but the petrol pump was destroyed. Adams shut off the pump from indoors and called the fire department.

The motorist can be heard on surveillance video at the Center Line station asking: “Is that a spider in there?” The video then shows flames erupting along the car’s side, the pump and the pavement.

“He grabbed the fire extinguisher, because the lady had me on hold, so he grabbed the fire extinguisher and put it out,” Adams told WWJ, a local radio station.

According to Adams, the flames were out by the time the fire department arrived. But, she said, the man was evasive as to what had happened.

“It shocked me because it was like, ‘So how did it catch on fire,'” said Adams. “And when I asked him after everything was done I’m like ‘Well, I know you wasn’t smoking and you wasn’t on the phone.’ So he’s like, ‘Well I have static in my car.’ So, I took it as that because when you have static you’re supposed to get out the car and wipe your hands on your car.”

However, after being questioned by fire investigators though, admitted how the fire started.

“I didn’t find out until later that he seen a spider and tried to burn it,” Adams told WWJ. “Which, the spider did get burned but nothing happened to his car.”

She said he apologised the next day, saying he’s deathly afraid of spiders.

“He was sorry,” Adams told local TV station WJBK. “He was sorry, he said he didn’t know. It is just one of those things that happen — stupidity.”

USA Today

Extracted in full from the Sydney Morning Herald.