Energy & Environment

Ex-college professor suspected in arson blazes near California’s massive Dixie fire

Firefighters attempt to put out a fire as flames spread over a highway
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A former college professor was ordered held in jail on Tuesday on the suspicion that he set blazes near the massive Dixie fire in California.

Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, was arrested on Saturday and is currently in Sacramento County Main Jail after he was charged with “willfully setting fire to any timber, underbrush, or grass upon lands owned by the United States,” an affidavit states.

The court documents show Maynard was on authorities’ radar immediately after the Cascade fire was reported and they found him stuck on the side of the road with car troubles nearby.

Another fire was set the next day, and tire tracks found were similar to ones that matched Maynard’s car, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Authorities began tracking the vehicle, and Maynard was allegedly also around when the Ranch fire began.

Officials also began tracking his cellphone, although the data has not been released. 

Maynard is only facing one charge currently but is believed to have set multiple fires.

“He entered the evacuation zone and began setting fires behind the first responders fighting the Dixie fire. In addition to the danger of enlarging the Dixie fire and threatening more lives and property, this increased the danger to the first responders,” a court document stated, CBS Sacramento reported.

“Maynard’s fires were placed in the perfect position to increase the risk of firefighters being trapped between fires. But for the dedication and efforts of U.S. Forest Service investigators working around the clock to track Maynard, those fires would not have been discovered in their infancy.”

Maynard denied setting the blazes and reportedly yelled in jail “I’m going to kill you, f—ing pig! I told those f—ers I didn’t start any of those fires!”

Maynard was previously a professor at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State, where he worked as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

A hearing in his case was set for Wednesday.

Tags Arson California California wildfires Dixie fire Gary Stephen Maynard wildfires
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