Taylorsville man charged with igniting massive Brian Head wildfire

Brian Head fire as it appeared on Highway 143 near Panguitch Lake, Garfield County, Utah, June 27, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man accused of accidentally sparking a massive Utah wildfire that forced some 1,500 people from their homes last month and cost about $34 million to fight was charged Tuesday.

Iron County prosecutor Scott Garrett told The Associated Press that his office charged Robert Ray Lyman, 60, with two misdemeanors. Garrett declined further comment, but authorities have said the fire started when a man set a pile of weeds on fire and it raged out of control near a cabin in the ski town of Brian Head on June 17.

The blaze forced hundreds of evacuations at homes and cabins near Brian Head, known for weekend getaway houses for Las Vegas residents, and spread several miles east to an area around Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishing. More than a dozen buildings were destroyed.

The fire torched more than 100 square miles (258 square kilometers) and burned for nearly a month in hot, dry conditions.

No lawyer was listed in court records for Lyman, who lives in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville. A message seeking comment on the charge wasn’t immediately returned.

If convicted on a reckless burning charge, Lyman could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A count of burning without a permit carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Officials have said the person who started the fire could be responsible for the costs of fighting it, though any move to recoup firefighting costs would come after an investigation is complete.

The tab of nearly $34 million puts it among the state’s most expensive fires, officials have said.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • hiker75 July 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Sock it to him! He will never be able to pay what was spent on the fire. How about six years of community service, 10 hours a week?

  • Real Life July 25, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Misdemeanor? Are you flipping kidding me? This idiot was warned, and STILL continued to be such a moron that caused over 70,000 acres to burn. You can’t get that back. Let alone the 34 million to fight it. Misdemeanor my ….

  • Foxyheart July 25, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Unfortunately, his homeowner’s insurance (provided he has some) will pay for it all. Which will then make your insurance premiums go up…..

    • mesaman July 25, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Not necessarily, Foxy. Let’s read his policy before they pay his ransom.

  • Bender July 26, 2017 at 2:38 am

    If it wasn’t him, it would have been someone or something else a few years down the line. The burned areas will recover into healthier forest. Homeowners on the urban-wild land interface need to plan for fire and take appropriate measures. It’s like an earthquake on the San Andreas fault line. Not if, but when.

  • DRT July 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Another self centered individual who believed that his momentary desire was the most important thing in the world. Screw everybody else.
    I’ll be surprised if we learn that he has any remorse whatsoever, other than having been charged with a crime. I agree with Real Life. Charging this guy with a misdemeaner is a joke. But it may be all that is allowed under state law.
    At least they are finally publishing his name and city of residence. They should also plaster his picture all over the media.

    • Bender July 27, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      Villager: We have found a witch, may we burn her?
      Crowd: BURN!! BUUUURN HER!
      Bedevere: But how do you *know* she is a witch?
      Villager: She looks like one!
      Other Villagers: Yeah! She looks like one!!!

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