Man Charged in Starting Utah Wildfire

Lyman charged with misdemeanors in Brian Head Fire


The Brian Head Fire continues to grow and has burned more than 27,700 acres, Friday, June 23, 2017 in Brian Head, Utah. A wildfire menacing a southern Utah ski town for nearly a week flared again, doubling in size for the second night in a row and torching more homes after residents fled the flames, officials said Friday. The blaze was one of several burning in the U.S. West as extreme heat challenges firefighters. (Stuart Johnson/The Deseret News via AP)



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.

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