By TOM HARALDSEN
CEDAR CITY—The man charged with accidentally starting the Brian Head Fire will be in 5th District Court on Oct. 11 for a preliminary hearing. Judge Keith Barnes set that date for Taylorsville resident Robert Ray Lyman, who has been charged with a class A misdemeanor for “reckless burning.”
If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up to $2,500. He has also been charged with one count of failing to notify authorities or failing to obtain a permit before burning, a class B misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Lyman’s attorney, Andrew Deiss, asked Barnes for the October hearing date. He stated in court that “there are charges in this case that we believe lack factual foundation.” Afterwards, he told reporters that Lyman is “distraught about the damage the fire caused.” He said Lyman was grateful to the first responders who fought the blaze, which burned over 71,000 acres, destroyed 13 buildings and cost an estimated $34 million to fight. At one time, the Brian Head Fire was the largest active wildfire in the United States.
The state of Utah will share the cost of fighting that fire with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. About 1,500 people were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses in Iron and Garfield Counties during the month-long fire fighting effort.