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Stuart Johnson, KSL, File

Judge moves case for man charged with starting Brian Head Fire

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Sep. 21, 2018 at 7:08 a.m.

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CEDAR CITY — A judge has agreed to transfer out of Iron County the case against a Taylorsville man charged with accidentally starting the 71,000-acre Brian Head wildfire last year.

Robert Ray Lyman, 62, will face the misdemeanor charges in Provo's 4th District Court after arguing that comments on social media and online news stories show he is hated in Iron County and might not get a fair trial there.

Fifth District Judge Keith Barnes on Wednesday ordered the transfer, court records show.

Lyman has pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless burning that put human life in danger, a class A misdemeanor, and burning without a permit, a class B misdemeanor. He is a former basketball coach and teacher at Salt Lake City's West High School.

Contrary to official statements, the fire did not begin with a weed torch, his attorney Andrew Deiss argued in court filings. Deiss said the misinformation fueled rumors his client used a flamethrower. In reality, Lyman was using a lighter on June 17, 2017, in an attempt to create a fire break and destroy potential fuel near his cabin, Deiss said in July, but the flames spread out of hand.

The blaze torched more than 100 square miles and over a dozen homes.

No further court dates have been scheduled.

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