Gary Maynard: Former college instructor on trial for arson over Northern California fire

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Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, a former instructor at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, is suspected of willfully starting the Ranch Fire, according to the federal complaint from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

An affidavit supporting the arrest warrant also describes movements that could link him to other fires. A vehicle tracking system and tire tracks indicated Maynard’s vehicle was near some fires when they were lit, the affidavit said.
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The allegations come as the Dixie Fire, the second largest in California history, rages across the state, forcing thousands to evacuate and razing nearly an entire city to the ground. In hot and dry conditions, more than 26,000 firefighters and support personnel battled 108 wildfires that have burned 2.4 million acres in 15 states. National Interagency Fire Center said Tuesday.

Maynard was a part-time lecturer at Sonoma State University in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the fall of 2020, a university spokesperson told CNN. According to school officials, he gave two seminars on criminal justice and deviance. Maynard replaced a faculty member who was on leave and was not reappointed before spring 2021, the school spokesperson said.

Maynard was also an adjunct faculty member at Santa Clara University in the sociology department from September 2019 to December 2020, a university spokesperson confirmed to CNN.

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An affidavit supporting the arrest warrant filed as part of the complaint says one of Maynard’s former colleagues at Santa Clara University contacted the San Jose Police Department in October 2020, raising concerns about the mental state of the man. Maynard.

On Aug. 7, Maynard was arrested in a restricted area in the Lassen National Forest near the Conard Fire, whose affidavit says he is suspected of having started a few hours earlier. He was taken into custody and is being held temporarily in the Sacramento County Jail, according to a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office.

When confronted by officers that day, the affidavit says, Maynard denied starting fires, according to the complaint. CNN has tried to reach Maynard and his attorney for comment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Maynard’s next hearing will be in Sacramento on Wednesday.

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