A former faculty professor from San Jose pleaded responsible to setting three wildfires within the early days of the Dixie Fireplace in summer time 2021.
Gary Stephen Maynard, 49, faces as much as 20 years in jail and a $250,000 advantageous for every of the three counts of arson on federal property, the U.S. Justice Division mentioned in a press launch following the plea Thursday in Sacramento. His sentencing is ready for Might 9.
He was charged with setting 4 fires — Cascade, Everitt, Ranch and Conard — and underneath the plea settlement admitted to 3 counts.
From September 2019 to December 2020, Maynard was an adjunct school member within the sociology division of Santa Clara College. He additionally taught on-line programs through the pandemic shutdown at Sonoma State College, Monterey Peninsula School and Chapman College, in Orange County.
On Aug. 7, 2021, he was arrested in an space that had been closed to the general public due to the Dixie Fireplace. Within the 5 days previous to the arrest, investigators had tracked Maynard utilizing a tool positioned on his automobile, recording his actions in forestland between Redding and Susanville. Three wildfires, believed to be intentionally set, have been discovered alongside his route.
Maynard had first come underneath suspicion on July 20, within the aftermath of a small fireplace found by mountain bikers on the southern flank of Mount Shasta. A Forest Service fireplace investigator got here throughout Maynard attempting to free his high-centered Kia Soul on a forest street and tried to query him in regards to the fireplace however discovered him agitated and uncooperative.
When tire tracks matching the Kia’s have been discovered close to a second fireplace the subsequent day on Mount Shasta, a warrant was obtained to trace Maynard’s cellphone place. That led investigators to the Kia, discovered Aug. 3 exterior a Susanville grocery retailer. A monitoring gadget was positioned on it, yielding the data that linked Maynard to 3 different wildfires.
This map exhibits the situation of the fires and Maynard’s areas as cited within the arrest affidavit.
The investigation turned up data that considered one of Maynard’s colleagues had contacted the police with issues about his well-being in October 2020.
“This involved citizen advised officers that Maynard had advised her he was affected by anxiousness, melancholy, break up character, and that he needed to kill himself,” in line with the affidavit. The colleague mentioned Maynard had left the room he rented in San Jose and was apparently residing out of his automobile at the same time as he continued to show on-line lessons.
The fires he was accused of setting, although extinguished of their early phases, have been known as doubtlessly harmful to crews combating the Dixie Fireplace. “Maynard’s fires have been positioned within the good place to extend the danger of firefighters being trapped between fires,” a prosecutor wrote in arguing towards bail for the suspect.
Dixie, which began on July 13, 2021, from a PG&E energy line hitting a tree, went on to burn 963,309 acres in 5 counties over the subsequent 3½ months. It’s the largest single-source wildfire in California’s recorded historical past.