By on September 28, 2015

fire2_1443237295239_274813_ver1.0_640_360We recently featured the story of a woman in Indiana who, frightened by a spider alighting on her shoulder, bolted from her car while it was still in reverse, resulting in a collision with a passing school bus and minor injuries to her son, who was in the back seat at the time. Now comes word that a Michigan man managed to deal with his arachnophobia by setting his car and a gasoline pump aflame when he was frightened by a spider while refueling his car.

fire4.3_1443237295032_274811_ver1.0_640_360He told police that he stopped at a Mobil station in Center Line to gas up, when he spotted a spider on the fuel filler neck. Deathly afraid of spiders, he decided the smart thing to do was get out his cigarette lighter and try to incinerate the eight-legged creature that was distressing him so. The spark from the lighter ignited fumes and surveillance video from the Mobil station shows flames spreading from the car to the apparently still pumping fuel dispenser.

“He didn’t have a cigarette. He didn’t have anything on him. All of a sudden I look out and I see flames,” station employee Susan Adams told Fox 2 Detroit.

Adams hit the big red button to remotely shut down the pump and called for help from the local fire department, but by the time firefighters arrived, the motorist had already put out the flames with one of the station’s fire extinguishers. The vehicle suffered only minor damage but the gasoline pump was destroyed. Nobody was injured.

There’s no report of any criminal charges or civil actions, but apparently the motorist is still welcome at that Mobile station. He was back the next day to apologize and refuel, this time managing to do it without starting a conflagration. “He was sorry,” Adams said. “He was sorry, he said he didn’t know. It is just one of those things that happen — stupidity.” Insurance is expected to cover the station’s damages.

Phobias are irrational fears and usually take some kind of therapy or treatment to dispose of them. In the meantime, however, folks, please remember that gasoline fumes are highly flammable when mixed with oxygen and even a tiny spark from static electricity, or even an electrical contact on a cell phone of other digital device, let alone a cigarette lighter’s flint and striker, can ignite those fumes. If that warning is necessary, since I forgot to say so in the post about the arachnophobe mom in Indiana, also, please don’t leave your car when it’s running and in gear.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

49 Comments on “Arachnophobia – The Sequel; Michigan Motorist Sees Spider, Sets Car & Gas Pump On Fire...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Punishment for being a K-car owner? That is a K-car of some sort, no?

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      It appears to be a Plymouth Acclaim / Dodge Spirit. More amazing than spider-man’s stupidity, is the fact that this car continues to exist. I may have seen 2 or 3 of these in my lifetime.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Car looks mostly untouched. Even fire avoids them.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        A friend of mine has a Dodge Spirit. It has about 80K miles, but it’s on its second engine. Half of its paint has vanished. In the two years I’ve known him, the only time he drove it was returning from the holding lot after it was towed for being parked on the street with expired tags. I think that cost him over a grand to go with the similar amount he paid for the second engine that won’t pass SMOG, which explains the expired tags. Because it is still tow-bait, it occupies his garage while his Mercedes-Benz CLS sits outside.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          WHY DOES HE EVEN OWN IT?!?!?!?!

          My mother drove a Spirit R/T in the early 90s, and even elementary school me knew that thing was a piece of crap. It made the Renault Alliance it replaced look like a Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I didn’t know him when the first engine blew up. If I had, I’d have tried to convince him to scrap it then. When it was towed and ransomed by San Diego, I tried to convince him to let it go. He still thinks he’s going to amortize what he spent getting it repaired by the shop that couldn’t get the CEL to go out after changing the engine. We replaced the front brakes in his garage after recovering it from the towing yard, although I don’t know why. It hasn’t covered a car length since.

            It isn’t like the car should have any amazing sentimental value. He bought it used after he moved out here. He had a job that soon allowed him to buy a house in La Jolla and a brand new Benz. For some reason he kept the Dodge, even though I think the engine failing is what prompted the new car purchase. It isn’t the 16-valve turbo Spirit that was once the fastest American sedan. It’s an FFV model that probably should have served in a government fleet for five years and been sold for scrap.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Even if it was the turbo’d Spirit that my mom had, it was still $hit. We owned that car at a time when I should be nostalgic about it. Nope. I have a better chance of waxing nostalgic about the burnt orange Mercury Villager that replaced it. I remember being amazed at how much of an upgrade it was over the Spirit.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    If you’re “deathly afraid” of spiders, why would you put your hand within an inch of one (even if you’re holding a lighter, which you apparently keep in your hand–and not in your pocket–while fueling your car)?

    Wouldn’t the squeegee have made a better weapon? It’s right there on the column.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It would have taken a whole second to get over there. When you’re dealing with a phobia, you generally aren’t thinking things through and you just want it dealt with “now”.

      • 0 avatar
        RangerM

        I’d say it takes at least as much thought (and time) to remember the lighter in your pocket, pull it from your pocket, and hold it up to the spider.

        My opinion:

        The guy saw the spider, became a kid with a magnifying glass (metaphorically), and failed to consider the possible negative outcomes. “Fears of spiders” is a deflection.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      While I have no illusions about the potential for stupidity by individual people, something about this story just doesn’t feel right to me, and I think that the spider story is a cover up. I can’t figure out what the guy was really trying to do, but even phobic people won’t do something this stupid, and which requires such proximity to the source of the phobia. If squishing the spider with the handle of the squeegee is getting too close for comfort, running away would be the next logical course of action. Even in an irrational state of mind, sparking a lighter next to the fuel filler is just too irrational for me to accept.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Seroiously, he looks Asian and in Detroit, driving a old beater, that probably means Hmong.

        He just hasn’t yet inculcated the almost instinctive aversion we have to flame-near-gas. Or, his greater intimacy with the results of spider bites, especially untreated, trumped everything else.

        One of the problems with the initial resettlement of Hmong from their villages to American apartment buildings and houses was their penchant for covering the floors of their new dwellings with black dirt and inviting in chickens & ducks.

        Spiders probably liked that.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Well this was in Warren/Centerline. In the 80s and 90s, most of the Hmong people that were living in the city of Detroit moved to that area. Minnesota and Wisconsin have many more Hmong Americans than Michigan though.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Some people have been known to use their cigarette lighters to hold the lever on the pump handle, when the handle doesn’t have the latching mechanism. A similar result can ensue.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Currently, there are 11 million spiders living illegally in the US. They are taking our jobs, raping our women and killing our unborn babies. The only solution is to round them up and send them back to Mexico. And, we will force Mexico to pay to build a huge wall between us and Mexico so the spiders don’t return. Why would Mexico pay for it? Because they will RESPECT us.

    Now, it will take some time to ‘resettle’ these millions of spiders that are currently polluting our genetics and culture. So we will first pass a law requiring them to wear gold stars, so we can tell who they are. Then we will strip them of all their rights and force them into ghettos to starve until we have the trains ready to transport them. We will steal all their property and kill them for sport. And then we’ll pack them like sardines into cattle cars for resettlement and de-lousing.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      I don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        It’s a satire of Donald Trump’s policies towards illegal immigrants, with an extra dose of awareness towards how dangerously reminiscent they are of the Nazis’ policies towards Jews and other “undesirables.”

        • 0 avatar

          I’m adverse to folks who toss around accusations of Godwin violations because they’re usually just a heckler’s veto but if anything is a Godwin violation, that comment fits the definition.

          Nazi policy towards Jews and Gypsies (but not necessarily other undesirables) was extermination, not deportation. While the Nazis used the term “deportation” it simply meant removing their victims from one area under their rule and moving them to another area they controlled, where they were enslaved and/or murdered.

          All the Holocaust survivors that I have known would have gladly been deported to somewhere outside of the Reich’s control.

          I’m no fan of Donald Trump or populists in general but nothing he’s proposed concerning illegal aliens (if that term is offensive, how about “immigration criminals”?) comes anywhere close to being “dangerously reminiscent” of things like the 1936 Nuremberg Laws that stripped Jewish *citizens* of Germany of their rights.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s not accurate, it was and changed later.

            “After the Anschluss with Austria in 1938, special facilities were established in Vienna and Berlin to “facilitate” Jewish emigration. The aim was not to hold Jews in readiness for later annihilation”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Solution

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Godwin is almost exclusively invoked in defense of fascists, so your use of it against fascists is poetic justice.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I have no dog in the Trump fight. I don’t really like him, but I don’t think he’s a Nazi. The “dangerously reminiscent” comment was my attempt to explain /u/VoGo’s 2nd paragraph to /u/an innocent man.

          • 0 avatar

            You mean Hitler only decided that killing Jews was a good idea after 1938?

            Sure, some German and Austrian Jews got out. German Jews had the highest survival rate of any European Jewish community, about 50%, because they could see what was happening and got out while they still could.

            Still, Hitler planned to dominate the world and eventually exterminate all Jews, from the get go. The notion that after seizing Poland and the rest of eastern Europe he suddenly said, “Mein Gott, we now have millions of more Jews under control. Just what shall we do with them?” is naive.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You can feel free to argue with Wikipedia, and reality, but the official stated policy was initially emigration. Here’s another source:

            “Until October 1941, German policy officially encouraged Jewish emigration. Gradually, however, the Nazis sought to deprive Jews fleeing Germany of their property by levying an increasingly heavy emigration tax and by restricting the amount of money that could be transferred abroad from German banks.”

            http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005468

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            I’ve seen the blue tattoo on survivors’ forearms. I would defer to the Jewish guy who all his life has networked with people affected by the crime.

          • 0 avatar

            “You can feel free to argue with Wikipedia, and reality, but the official stated policy was initially emigration.”

            Again, comparing Trump’s immigration policies with Nazi treatment of Jews in the 1930s is at the least an apples to oranges comparison. The discussion concerning Trump is about possibly deporting immigrants.

            The emigration you speak of regarding Germany and Jews was emigration of people who were German citizens. Long before 1941, Jewish citizens of Germany were stripped of many rights under the 1936 Nuremberg Laws. Nobody currently is talking about stripping native born or naturalized U.S. citizens of their rights or encouraging/forcing them to emigrate [In the discussion of birthright citizenship, there have been calls to end the practice, not, as far as I know, any calls to strip already existing U.S. citizens of any rights].

            Let be real. Do you think those who say that Trump’s policies are dangerously reminiscent of Nazi policies towards Jews and other minorities are really talking about pre-1939 emigration or are they deliberately raising the specter of “deportees” on cattle cars going to concentration and death camps?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m glad could finally agree, I think its important to get facts straight when making points. I think I see where you and others are coming from even if it is an apples and oranges general comparison. But in the case of the illegals they are not being stripped of rights or property by gov’t, it is the native population who is being slowly stripped of theirs.

            Personally I think Trump is controlled opposition as he simply states the most obvious things in public, and then when probed either flip flops or doesn’t have a real answer. The US and Europe are being invaded by foreign forces and timing of both is obviously related. A hundred years ago the Army would have been moved in shortly after the initial onslaught, now not a politician in US or Europe has the balls to actually shoot the invaders. Hell why not, our own gov’t is likely sponsoring the whole endeavor, traffickers are getting paid from somewhere. Slow dose genocide is the name of the game, and fiat toilet paper from Brussels and Washington makes it happen. Then you roll out controlled guys like Trump to state the obvious and rile people up, but ultimately do nothing.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Ronnie,
            It was admittedly a strong analogy to compare Trump’s proposals to Nazi crimes. I was reacting to a Republican debate in which the candidates were falling over each other to prove who was the toughest on illegal immigration.

            Perhaps I am the only American who is horrified by the thought of federal troops rounding up 11 million people for forced deportation. The sheer scale of the endeavor, ripping apart families and communities, destroying businesses and crippling some industries is to me horrifying.

            If we have learned anything from the Holocaust, I hope it is “Never Again.” Certainly, mass deportation is very different from genocide. But the more I heard these presidential contenders boast of their plans, the more I saw similarities.

            I am willing to be labeled a Godwin Violator (which I had to look up, admittedly) if it helps people to reconsider attitudes towards people with different citizenship papers.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        VoGo’s just another bleeding heart crying about prejudice against Arachnid-Americans. Those eight-legged pincer-nosed vermin are undermining everything that makes this country great!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Cui bono?

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You anti-Arachnite, you! The nerve!

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Someone needs to turn in their Man card.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    Tune in next week for the following installment of spidergate as we cover the story of a man shooting the driver of his car and crashing because he saw a spider. And the stupidity escalates.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Fire is new to the Hmong.

    They will soon learn its ways.

  • avatar
    JimothyLite

    The more spiders that read these stories…

  • avatar
    qfrog

    All that comes to mind is the saying “kill it with fire”.

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    This nitwit knew how to look for, find, and use the fire extinguisher while in full panic mode, but had no idea that gasoline vapors were flammable.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I wonder if he will file Acclaim?

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    To his credit, he grabbed one of the fire extinguishers and put out the fire before the crews arrived. That takes some courage.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Umm he wasn’t Asian. It was DETROIT. Can’t anyone do the math, or see correctly? As far as the Acclaim/Spirit/Le Baron thing goes…it was time to be torched. I’m sure this guy could finally get that Cadillac he’s always wanted…provided he even has car insurance. People with insurance in Detroit, are as rare as people with a dentist in South Carolina.

    • 0 avatar

      C’mon, tell us what you really mean. Sheesh.

      While the notion of a “ghetto getter”, as they’re called, a car that’s completely illegal (no insurance, plates stolen or borrowed), is real, they usually don’t leave the city limits of Detroit. The current police chief of Detroit is a no BS guy that wears a uniform, drives a cruiser and will do a traffic stop (he also encourages Detroiters to arm themselves against criminals). Soon after he was hired, he pulled someone over driving a ghetto getter. He ended up letting the guy go with a warning but did ask him, “Would you drive that in the suburbs?” and the guy said, “Hell no, they’ll impound the car if you get pulled over.”

      The gas station fire wasn’t in Detroit. It was in Center Line, in Macomb County. It’s not even adjacent to Detroit. Per Wikipedia, the 2010 census says that Center Line residents are “82.5% White, 12.0% African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.”

      So, doing the math, the chances are much greater that he’s white than either Asian/Hmong as some have suggested or black, as you’ve implied.

      I’m thinking stupidity before insurance fraud. Even stupid folks know there are security cameras at gas stations.

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        As per the video…he was black(or had an awesome tan). As per the video, he was stupid. He certainly was not in Ann Arbor…and the news said Detroit. (or somewhere in Michigan)The vehicle was a 20 something year old Chrysler product…probably not insured…after all…if he’s killing a spider with a lighter…one might also deduce he’s also stupid enough to drive a 20 year old Plymouth without insurance. Regardless of the circumstances…he won’t be getting his Mensa card any time soon.
        Hey Ronnie! Stop riding me about logistics, and nit picking my every word. My post reflects what I saw on the news here in Phoenix…as well as what was reported in Phoenix. Personally, I have been to Detroit several times in my life. Believe me when I say, those “ghetto cars” travel quite freely up and down I-75. Toledo is not much better, as well.
        Stop the chutzpah!

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    According to the report, the spider’s body was never found. Anyone who has seen a slasher flick (or soap opera) knows the spider will be back. Now he’s immune to fire. THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL!

  • avatar
    doublechili

    It might have been much worse. The spider could have been on his head and he could have been carrying a handgun.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The car involved is an Acclaim, which had the huge white simulated backup lights.

    Up to a few years ago I had a 1990 Spirit. Fuel-injected V6, electronic 4spd auto. Once you dealt with the standard problems, like aquatic headlights and rebuilding the valve guides, and properly maintaining the transmission, and trying to keep the paint on it, it was quite a good car. Excellent design for its time, but cheaply built. It was as efficient as much newer cars (40mpg Cdn highway), with a versatile split/folding rear seat (1990). It was so comfortable people would comment on it without prompting. Never failed an emissions test. Never broke down. Most intelligent shifting automatic I ever drove. It was the most rust-proof car I’ve ever owned. The V6 was powerful for the size of the car.

    There’s no sense owning one now because they lack modern safety features. The rear window configuration and lack of headrests is a recipe for head injuries if rear-ended. I suspect that being a cheap car, they were owned by people who didn’t look after them. There are a surprising number still on the road, and this Acclaim doesn’t look like a beater.

  • avatar

    Speaking of the Acclaim, does anyone know of a chart or diagram with the taxonomy of Chrysler’s K cars? he last New Yorker and the first gen minivan were the last iterations, that much I know, but has a single platform ever spawned more models? I’m partial to the P variants myself.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-the-curbside-classic-comprehensive-chronology-of-the-chrysler-k-car-family-tree/

      I don’t know of a chart.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • downunder: So China will still produce ICE/Hybrids when the rest of the world goes total ev. Hooray! Australians will...
  • FalconRTV: I would miss the V8 noises.
  • dal20402: Wheels color-coordinated to the butterscotch leather are pimp.
  • 28-Cars-Later: Four years is time enough for a recycle.
  • Corey Lewis: We done did TC in 2017! https://www.thetruthaboutcars. com/2017/11/rare-rides-a-19...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber