Man accused of starting Brian Head Fire makes first court appearance

Posted at 10:54 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 00:54:01-04

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The lawyer representing the man accused of starting the devastating Brian Head Fire said Tuesday that the charges against his client don't have a foundation based on facts.

Tuesday afternoon, 61-year old Robert Lyman faced a judge for the first time during an initial appearance in Cedar City.

Lyman faces two misdemeanor charges of reckless burning, and failure to obtain a burn permit. He was briefly booked into jail on both charges two weeks ago.

"Like all of us, Bob Lyman is distraught about the damage the fire caused​," said Andy Deiss, Lyman's attorney.

The Brian Head Fire started on June 17, after what authorities said started as a man burning weeds turned into a full-fledged forest fire.

What followed included the evacuation of the entire town of Brian Head, highway closures, several homes and buildings burning down, $34 million in funds to fight the flames and eventually, charges for Lyman.

"From the start of this investigation he cooperated, he came forward, he helped in every way he could," Deiss said, after court on Tuesday.

Deiss said he wasn't going to speak on any facts or details of the case, but he did say that many of the rumors floating around aren't true and that Lyman continues to be a man of integrity.

"While we appreciate the prosecutor's efforts and the investigator's efforts to get to the bottom of this, there are charges in this case that we believe lack factual foundation, and we think will be exposed in the fullness of time," Deiss said.

The initial appearance lasted less than two minutes, and that time was spent scheduling a preliminary hearing in October.