College professor suspected of setting 7 fires in California

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A college professor is accused of setting a series of seven fires in Northern California.

Authorities say 47-year-old Gary Maynard was arrested on Saturday after an investigation that began in July.

Seven fires between July 6 and Aug. 7 near the Lassen National Forest and Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to court documents:

Sweetbriar Fire – July 6
Bradley Fire – July 11
Cascade Fire – July 20
Everitt Fire – July 21
Moon Fire – August 5
Conard Fire – August 7
Ranch Fire – August 7

According to court documents, investigators followed Maynard by tracking his cell phone and car.


‘We didn’t expect a monster like this’: Dixie Fire grows to become largest single wildfire in California history

“Agents had installed a tracker on his vehicle,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anderson wrote in a memo, in which he argued Maynard should remain in custody. “Where Maynard went, fires started. Not just once, but over and over again.”

The three most recent fires were not far from where the Dixie Fire is burning, investigators said. The Dixie Fire recently broke the record for largest single wildfire in California history. (The August Complex, which consisted of multiple fires burning across seven counties still holds the record as largest wildfire complex.)

The Ranch Fire in Lessen County, one of several fires Gary Maynard is accused by federal officials of setting. (Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service)

“The area in which Maynard chose to set his fires is near the ongoing Dixie fire, a fire which is still not contained despite the deployment and efforts of over 5,000 personnel,” Anderson wrote.


Dixie Fire destroys nearly 900 structures, burns over 487K acres

As of Tuesday, Maynard faced charges of arson in connection with the Ranch Fire and unauthorized entry of a closed area.

Maynard is believed to have taught at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology, as well as master’s degrees in political science, theater arts and sociology, according to his bio on Sonoma State’s website.

The story was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

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