Trial date set in massive Brian Head wildfire

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) A plane drops fire retardant on the Brian Head Fire on Sunday, June 18, 2017.

Provo • A judge has denied a defense push to dismiss charges against a Utah man accused of starting a massive 2017 wildfire near Brian Head.

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.