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
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.
“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.
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