One of the largest forest fires of the 2017 summer’s arid period may have been caused by a retired high school boys basketball coach in Utah.
As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Robert Lyman was charged with reckless burning and failure to obtain a permit before burning in connection with the Brian Head Fire. While the two charges are relatively minor — a class A and B misdemeanor, respectively — together they could land Lyman up to 18 months in jail and a $3,500 fine.
While no one has intimated that Lyman intentionally started the blaze, the damage it created was significant; Brian Head eventually incinerated 13 homes in total, requiring some $34 million to fight and stop.
According to the Tribune, Lyman was the head coach at Salt Lake West and later an assistant at Weber State University. Lyman was the Tribune’s coach of the year in 2009, when West High earned a state title.
Utah officials identified Lyman via his cabin, which was the site of the original brush fire that led the inferno to spread and which is also prominently featured on his Facebook account.
The $34 million cost of the fire is expected to be spread between Utah, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. For Lyman, his future now depends on leniency from a judge and hopes that his good intentions will spare him more grievous penalties.