September 24 2021 03:30 pm

College professor suspected of setting 7 fires in California

Local News

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

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

He is suspected of starting 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 – Aug. 5
  • Conard Fire – Aug. 7
  • Ranch Fire – Aug. 7

The three most recent fires were not far from where the Dixie Fire is burning, investigators said.

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

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,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anderson wrote in a memo, in which argued that Maynard should remain in custody.

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

“Agents had installed a tracker on his vehicle,” Anderson wrote. “Where Maynard went, fires started. Not just once, but over and over again.”

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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