Ex-professor pleads guilty to setting fires near 2021's Dixie Fire

A former Bay Area college professor pleaded guilty Friday to setting multiple fires while firefighters were combating the Dixie Fire in 2021.

Federal authorities said 49-year-old Gary Stephen Maynard admitted engaging in an arson spree, setting off the Cascade and Everitt Fires of July 2021 and the Ranch and Conard Fires of August 2021. 

The San Jose resident pleaded guilty to three counts of arson on federal property.

The incidents occurred in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, in the vicinity of the Dixie Fire in the Lassen National Forest. 

Maynard used to teach criminal justice at Sonoma State University and was an adjunct faculty member at Santa Clara University.

The Dixie Fire burned nearly 1 million acres and lasted for several months.


Several law enforcement agencies helped investigate the crimes, including the FBI, Cal Fire, and the California Highway Patrol.

Maynard faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.