How to help: Northern California wildfire relief

Man accused of starting Brian Head fire pleads not guilty

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The man accused of starting a wildfire that torched 71,000 acres around the town of Brian Head has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor reckless burning charge.

Robert Ray Lyman, accused of starting the 71,000 acre Brian Head Fire. (Jail booking photo provided by the Iron County Jail)

Robert Ray Lyman, 61, was due to appear in Cedar City’s 5th District Court on Wednesday. However, court records show his attorney cancelled a planned preliminary hearing and he entered not guilty pleas to a class A misdemeanor charge of reckless burning and a class B misdemeanor charge of burning without a permit.

Judge Keith Barnes was instead asked to schedule a date for a jury trial.

Lyman is accused of starting the June 17 wildfire by burning weeds on his southern Utah property. The wildfire led to the evacuation of the entire town of Brian Head, numerous homes and buildings burning and extended closures. Authorities have said the fire cost more than $34 million to fight.

Lyman’s attorney, Andy Deiss, has insisted that many of the accusations against his client are false and has said he is cooperating with authorities.