One man’s arachnophobia resulted in a dramatic, spider-sparked blaze in Center Line, Michigan over the weekend. USA Today reports that the fire ignited when the panicked motorist saw a spider on the gas pump and lit it on fire while pumping gas. Open flames and gasoline fumes are a notoriously an explosive combination, and this was no exception.
While it appears as though the driver managed to deal with his spider problem, the resulting blaze left him with more to handle than the original eight-legged threat. His car, the gas pump, and his clothing burst into flames within an instant of flicking his lighter and sparking the spider-induced blaze. The blaze grew into an inferno in a matter of seconds, prompting the gas station attendant to turn off the gas to the pumps and call the fire department, while the singed motorist grabbed a fire extinguisher to prevent the spider sparked blaze from spreading.
He was able to put the fire out before the fire department made it to the scene.
Fortunately, the driver’s fear-induced decision to light the spider on fire didn’t cause him any significant injuries. Nor did it do much damage to his car, despite the intensity of the blaze. The gas pump was another matter, though. It went up like a torch, causing substantial damage to the gas station’s facilities.
Susan Adams, the gas station clerk who witnessed the spider-sparked blaze drama first hand, reported to local media that the fuel-pumper responsible for the blaze didn’t initially want to admit how the fire had been started. She told interviewers that when she questioned the ararachnophobic motorist about what happened, he pretended to be as puzzled as she was, blaming the blaze on static electricity build-up in his car.
It wan’t until he was grilled by the local fire department that the man, who hasn’t been publicly identified, admitted the truth. Adams, who was dangerously close to the spider-sparked blaze, had some words about the situation, which she shared with Fox 6, the local Fox affiliate.
“He was sorry. He apologized. He was sorry. He didn’t know and, it’s just one of those things that happened. Stupidity. That’s all I can call it…pure stupidity.”
For his part, the motorist did return to the scene of the blaze the next day. That’s when he issued his apology to Adams and the rest of the gas station’s employees for letting his fear get the better of him. Adams and her co-workers had reportedly been having a good-natured laugh about the surveillance video in the interim.
While the spider-sparked blaze sparked a lot of laughs when it was all said and done, what happened serves as a reminder for motorists that gas pumps can be dangerous. This driver came out pretty much unscathed, except for his pride, but the incident could have been much worse.
It’s important to obey all posted safety guidelines/warning when you’re pumping gas or in the vicinity of gas pumps or gas fumes. It’s just as important to use common sense, because no safety guidelines are going to outline proper safety procedures for every situation. It goes without saying that signage warning drivers not to light a spider on the pump handle on fire are exceedingly rare, if not totally non-existent. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re questioning the wisdom of sparking an open flame near gasoline fumes, it’s always advisable to err on the side of caution.
That is, maybe take of a shoe and squish the eight-legged freak rather than risk your own life and the lives of those around you by lighting it on fire.
While killing it with fire might seem more satisfying in the short term, it can be more problematic in the long run. The last thing you want to do is be responsible for a spider-sparked blaze.
[Image Courtesy: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]