West Seattle man burns down house while killing a spider

By Tim Clifford

The headline says it all. No human can escape the existential condition of making mistakes, but rarely do those mistakes perfectly combine irony and humor as swiftly as one West Seattle man’s efforts to kill a spider lead to his house burning down.

At 8:27 p.m. on Tuesday the Seattle Fire Department responded to a residence that had caught fire on the 10200 block of 34 Ave. S.W. The caller, a man who was renting the house, told authorities that he had been trying to kill a spider using a spray paint can and a lighter. Once the tenant caught the eight-legged creature ablaze it scurried into a hole in the wall that then also caught fire. Within minutes the fire had spread to the attic of the residence.

When fire crews initially arrived on the scene, an unknown bystander informed them that the tenant had been keeping a store of ammunition in the attic. Popping sounds from the attic led the fire crews to approach the fire defensively at first instead of going inside. Once it was confirmed that this was misinformation, the fire department was able to go inside and stopped the fire in about 15 minutes.

The estimated damage to the home is currently $40,000 while the man’s belongings that were lost were estimated to be valued at $20,000. All tolled, a $60,000 loss for the life of one spider.

Pictures of the house and the initial story immediately spread like fire on social media with shares from sites like Reddit all over Facebook. By Wednesday, morning the Today show, CNN, and even the ladies on The View were discussing this extermination gone wrong.

While his story is currently being talked about all over, the man’s identity remains unknown.

The Seattle Fire Department as well as the Seattle Police Department have said that they don’t plan to follow through with any criminal investigations. The loss of all of the man’s belongings as well as the home he was renting seems to be punishment enough in everyone’s eyes.

“There are two messages that I have been trying to get out since this happened. First, there is a safer method for pest control other than a hand torch. Second, that people not delay in calling 911 when they have a fire emergency. Fires double in size every 60 seconds so we encourage people to call us immediately for any reason” said Public Information Officer for the SFD Kyle Moore.

While it was at first reported that the tenant and a woman who he lived with were seeking aid from the American Red Cross in Seattle, the Red Cross has denied being contacted for any assistance related to this incident.

Luckily, neither the tenant nor any of his neighbors were injured in the fire.

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