College Professor Turned Arsonist Now A Prisoner After Igniting 7 Wildfires

The wildfires that ravaged Oregon and California were influenced by many factors, including the windstorm which resulted in a recent $100 Million 2020 Wildfire Damage Claim Against Pacificor Filed By Oregon Wineries and Vineyards. Arson also played a role and a former criminal justice professor, Gary Stephen Maynard (49), who set at least seven fires, was sent to prison for over five years on Thursday according to prosecutors.

Maynard taught at several schools, including at Santa Clara University’s sociology department as an adjunct faculty member, and as a lecturer at Sonoma State University. He specialized in criminal justice, cults, and deviant behavior.


Arsonist Ignited Some Wildfires Behind Firefighters

In a year that featured some of California’s most destructive wildfires, Maynard was caught following police investigations into the fires, including a blaze ignited by him near the 2021 Dixie Fire. Prosecutors indicated that he was eventually caught setting fires in an evacuation zone located behind firefighters battling the Dixie Fire, California’s second-largest wildfire.

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After investigators tracked his black Kia Soul for hundreds of miles through Northern California, Maynard was arrested in August 2021. While found guilty in seven fire incidents, he had filmed himself igniting blazes for which he hasn’t yet been charged.

Maynard first came under the radar of authorities during the July 2021′s Cascade Fire, on the western slopes of Mount Shasta. This fire was prevented from spreading beyond 100 to 200 square feet in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Siskiyou County and the next day, investigators encountered tire tracks made by a Kia hatchback similar to those made near a fire burning on Everitt Memorial Highway in Mount Shasta.

Using a tracking device authorities had fastened to Maynard’s car, and by monitoring his EBT card usage, the authorities followed him around California. He was pinpointed near where the Ranch and Conard fires were ignited in the Lassen National Forest.


Ex-College Professor Jailed For Arson

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said Maynard intentionally made a dangerous situation more perilous by setting some fires behind the men and women fighting the Dixie Fire. Talbert said Maynard was “potentially cutting off any chance of escape.”

Suffering from untreated mental health issues, a sentencing memorandum filed by Maynard’s attorneys indicates he was homeless when his arson spree began. He has been attempting to treat his illnesses while in custody according to the defense as he pleaded guilty to three counts of arson on federal property in February.

Prosecutors said Maynard exhibited wanton and deliberate actions while setting fires designed to harm individuals. He was sentenced to five years and three months in prison and will continue treatment for mental health issues during his incarceration.

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