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Former criminal justice professor charged with starting multiple California wildfires

A former college professor was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday for allegedly starting four wildfires in Northern California earlier this year.  The wildfires nearly trapped firefighters as they battled a massive fire nearby, federal prosecutors said. 

Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of arson to federal property, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said in a statement. More than 6,000 firefighters battled the flames, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes, businesses and other structures.

Maynard is accused of setting the Cascade and Everitt fires, on 20 and 21 July, and the Ranch and Conard Fires on 7 August. Investigators surveilled Maynard’s black Kia Soul car as they pursued their inquiries. Agents with the US Forest Service started investigating him after the Cascade Fire was reported on the western slopes of Mount Shasta.

After a second fire erupted on Mount Shasta the following day, investigators apparently found tyre tracks similar to those made by the Kia. Maynard was stopped briefly by police on 3 August.  The policy took this opportunity to place a tracker under his car. His movements were then followed for hundreds of miles. Investigators said he travelled to the area where the Ranch and Conard Fires erupted in the Lassen National Forest.

“It appeared that Maynard was in the midst of an arson-setting spree,” court papers said. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 (£186,000) fine for each count of arson to federal property, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said in a statement. Maynard has denied setting the blazes, court papers added, and is in custody pending trial.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: FOX NEWS

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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