Taylorsville man accused of starting Brian Head fire pleads not guilty

A firefighter uses a backpack pump to spray water on a hotspot in the Clear Creek area above Panguitch Lake, Garfield County, Utah, July 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy Color Country Interagency Fire Center, Cedar City News / St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A Taylorsville man accused of starting the 70,000-acre wildfire that torched 13 homes and cost approximately $34 million to battle pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Robert Ray Lyman, 61, entered the not guilty plea through his lawyer in 5th District Court. He faces one count of reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor, and one count of failing to notify authorities or failing to obtain a permit before burning, a class B misdemeanor.

If convicted, Lyman could serve a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a total of $2,500 for the class A misdemeanor and up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the class B misdemeanor


Read More: Attorney says charges in the Brian Head Fire criminal case ‘lack factual foundation’


Lyman was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday that has since been canceled.

He has requested that his case go to a jury trial. A trial date has yet to be set.

The Brian Head Fire began June 17 and Lyman is accused of accidentally starting it while burning weeds on his property. The fire grew to cover an area of 100 square miles and resulted in multiple road closures and the evacuation of 1,500 people.

At one point, the Brian Head Fire was considered the largest wildfire in the nation.


Read more: Brian Head Fire rehabilitation treatments begin


“Like all of us, Bob Lyman is distraught about the damage the fire caused,” Lyman’s attorney, Andrew Deiss, said in August. “And like all of us, he’s grateful to the men and women, the first responders, who had to fight the fire, and those who had to deal with the aftermath.”

As to the charges his client faces, Deiss said he believes they “lack factual foundation” and will be addressed as the case moves forward.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • hiker75 October 10, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    You gotta be kidding me.

    • Real Life October 10, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Lots of locals think this idiot did no wrong.

      • .... October 10, 2017 at 11:41 pm

        you’re an idiot to

        • Real Life October 11, 2017 at 7:17 am

          When calling one an idiot, it’s best to know how to spell the word too.

  • bikeandfish October 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    The not guilty plea is expected but the charges and sentences seem so minute compared to the damage caused by his alleged negligence.

    • Anon October 11, 2017 at 8:35 am

      I think the state will probably sue him civilly for the damages. Guess we’ll have to wait and see where it goes…

  • DRT October 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    The not guilty plea, is just a given. When you are dealing with someone who is so irresponsible, and so self centered, and dare I say pig headed, that he requested a burn permit, is told not to burn, but goes ahead and burns anyway.
    So he burned anyway. Now, let him be forced to be responsible for his violation of the law, but most of all, let him be responsible civilly for his costing so many people so much time.
    I suppose it would be a stretch to charge him with manslaughter or something similar, for the man that was killed up there this week, when working to restore the damage that Lyman caused. But the reality is, that he is the one that caused this man’s death.

  • Mike October 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Lawsuits will do him in?

    • .... October 10, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      LOL. ! and what you going to sue him for ? his used pick up and 300 dollars he has in the bank ?

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