A college professor who lectured in criminal justice is accused of setting a series of seven fires in Northern California, according to KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento.
Gary Maynard, 47, was arrested on Saturday following an investigation that began in July, authorities said.
Maynard taught at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, lecturing in criminal justice studies, the Sacramento Bee reported.
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.
Court documents obtained by KTXL show he’s accused in seven fires between July 6 and Aug. 7 near the Lassen National Forest and Shasta-Trinity National Forest:
- 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
Investigators followed Maynard by tracking his cell phone and car, according to the court documents.
“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 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.
As of Tuesday, Maynard faced charges of arson in connection with the Ranch Fire and unauthorized entry of a closed area.