A former college professor living out of his car is accused of setting fires near the area of the massive Dixie Fire in Northern California.
CBS Sacramento reports forty-seven-year-old Gary Stephen Maynard was arrested Saturday for setting fire to public land. He's accused of setting the Ranch Fire near the Mendocino National Forest.
US Forest Agents began investigating the former Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University criminal justice professor on July 20 when he was spotted by someone acting strangely near the Cascade Fire.
Court documents reveal a witness saw Maynard come out of the woods where one of the fires was sparked. They said the man was "mentally unstable."
"Witness 1 believed the man was mentally unstable, describing the man as, 'mumbling a lot and having bipolar-like behavior,'" the court documents detailed.
Investigators were quick to place a tracking device on Maynard's vehicle looking for answers for who or what sparked the Dixie Fire, the largest single wildfire in California history. They also found additional evidence he might have stoked more fires.
"The two small ground fires were each determined to be acts of arson and, indeed, classified as two additional arson fires," wrote one investigator.
Another court document read:
"He entered the evacuation zone and began setting fires behind the first responders fighting the Dixie fire. In addition to the danger of enlarging the Dixie fire and threatening more lives and property, this increased the danger to the first responders. Maynard's fires were placed in the perfect position to increase the risk of firefighters being trapped between fires. But for the dedication and efforts of U.S. Forest Service investigators working around the clock to track Maynard, those fires would not have been discovered in their infancy."
On Tuesday, federal Judge Kendall Newman ordered Maynard to stay in custody pending a hearing on Wednesday.
While in custody, Maynard showed signs of anger and instability as he lashed out at police in the Lassen County Jail:
"I'm going to kill you, f—king pig! I told those f—kers I didn't start any of those fires!"
Commenting on the case is Jonathan Turley, a Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, who said:
"There is an abundance of evidence of a mental disability and crisis in this case. This is someone who clearly needs help and hopefully will now get some. The question will become whether that evidence is sufficient as an insanity defense."
Maynard's motive has yet to be released by police. Still, perhaps the fires around Dixie or even Dixie itself were aided by the possible arsonist and not as much climate change as liberals want everyone to believe.