The 19-year-old suspect was seen Wednesday carrying a flaming gas can, which he dropped in the street before rolling around on some grass to put out the fire on his pants leg, according to Athens-Clarke County police.
His actions were witnessed by two police officers on patrol in the 100 block of Cone Drive at about 11:20 p.m. when they saw a car fully engulfed in flames.
Firefighters and an ambulance crew were called to the scene to extinguish the car fire and treat the man’s burns, police said. He was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center for additional treatment.
The suspect reportedly told officers he was driving past when he saw the car on fire and got out to see if anyone was inside.
An officer noted in a police incident report that the man’s car was running with the driver’s side door open at the time.
Police had the man’s car towed so that it could be searched for evidence in an arson investigation.
“I would say he’s definitely a suspect,” said Sgt. Rick Hammond.