Former professor indicted for setting wildfires near the Dixie Fire in California

Gary Maynard arson photograph of the Ranch Fire
Exhibit 2 in the Gary Maynard Detention Memo, showing the Ranch Fire shortly after it was discovered. Gary Maynard was charged with starting the fire and three others. Photo courtesy of US Attorney’s office.

A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment November 18 against Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, of San Jose, charging him with arson to federal property and setting timber afire, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Maynard engaged in an arson spree in the vicinity of the then ongoing Dixie Fire in areas of the Shasta-Trinity and Lassen National Forests. Some of the fires he set were new fires behind the firefighters fighting the Dixie Fire. Maynard is charged with setting the Cascade Fire (July 20), Everitt Fire (July 21), Ranch Fire (Aug. 7), and Conard Fire (Aug. 7).

He was not charged with starting the Dixie Fire, but was investigated for his responsibility in starting five others. They were all suppressed before growing large, in part because for some of them his vehicle was being tracked and after obtaining warrants arson investigators had access to the approximate location of his cell phone every 15 seconds. In a couple of cases US Forest Service Agents reported the new fires immediately, were the first on scene, and did what they could to knock down the blazes until firefighters arrived.

Mr. Maynard is a former instructor at universities in California including Santa Clara and Sonoma State.

From CNN:

Maynard was a part-time lecturer at Sonoma State University in its Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice during the fall of 2020, a university spokesperson told CNN. He taught two seminars on the topics of criminal justice and deviant behavior, according to school officials. Maynard was filling in for a faculty member who was on leave and was not reappointed for Spring 2021, the school spokesperson said.

Sonoma State University welcomed him as a new lecturer on August 31, 2020. Their description:

Dr. Gary Maynard graduated from Bowling Green State University, University of Alaska Fairbanks and Stony Brook University. He has three master’s degree (political science, theater arts, and sociology) and a Ph.D. in sociology.  His teaching and research focus on the following topics: sociology of technology/social media, social psychology, sociology of health, deviance and crime, sociology of the mass media, youth and adolescence, global sociology, environmental sociology, the sociology of sports, the sociology of drug abuse and alcoholism and quantitative research methods.

More information about the four fires is in our August 11, 2021 article.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.