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College professor accused of starting blazes near Dixie Fire

Posted at 9:16 AM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 12:16:40-04

(KERO) — As the Dixie Fire continues to burn through northern California.

A college professor is accused of starting multiple fires near the area.

In a 32 page federal criminal complaint 47-year-old Gary Maynard is charged with purposely setting the ranch fire in Lassen County this month.

United States Forest Service agents started investigating him July 20th, the day of the Cascade Fire.

Investigators eventually placing a tracking device on his car after a witness there says they saw Maynard come from the area where the fire sparked saying he appeared mentally unstable quote: "mumbling a lot and having bipolar-like behavior."

While tracking his movements authorities believe he started more than two fires, explaining:

"They really went quickly to get warrants on his phone, tracker for his vehicle and they kept this person as a big suspect right away," said Mark Reichel, an attorney who spent a decade defending federal cases including arson.

Court documents suggest the suspected arsonist at one point worked at Santa Clara University.

Sonoma State confirms he was also taught at their university fall of 2020.

Specializing in criminology and criminal justice, Maynard denies the allegations.

A professor once specializing in crimes id now accused of committing his own.

"They are going to try to put a map up and say this is somebody who had a goal and the goal was to set a lot of fires, hoping there would be just one big one," said Reichel.