Trial date set in massive Brian Head wildfire

Brian Head fire, as seen from state Route 143 near Panguitch Lake, Garfield County, Utah, June 27, 2017 | File photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

PROVO (AP) — A judge has denied a defense push to dismiss charges against a Utah man accused of starting a massive 2017 wildfire near Brian Head.

Robert Ray Lyman, who is accused of starting the Brian Head Fire last year, appears in 5th District Court in Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 15, 2017 | File photo by Utah court pool, St. George News

The Daily Herald reports Judge James Brady on Monday set the trial to begin Dec. 17 for 63-year-old defendant Robert Lyman.

Lyman is charged with misdemeanor counts, including reckless burning. Authorities say the blaze started when he lit a pile of branches cleared to make his Southern Utah cabin safer from wildfire.

His lawyer Andrew Deiss argues Lyman wasn’t reckless because he unsuccessfully tried to use water to keep the blaze in check.

Brady decided a jury should weigh those efforts against Lyman’s decision to start a large fire during hot, dry weather.

The fire cost nearly $40 million to fight and destroyed 13 homes. One person, 58-year-old Bryan Burr, died while working on burn scar rehabilitation efforts months after the fire.

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