Walter Alan Bonds, 19, of Hawkins Lane, was charged with first-degree arson.
Officers were riding in a patrol car on Cone Drive the night of Feb. 26 when they saw a car that was fully engulfed in flames.
They also saw Bonds, who was carrying a flaming gas can and whose pants were on fire, running away from the blaze, police said.
Bonds dropped the can in the street then rolled around on some grass to put out the fire on his pants leg, according to police.
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 at the time that Bonds' car was running with the driver’s side door open.
Police had the man’s car towed so that it could be searched for evidence in an arson investigation.
The 2002 Chevrolet Impala was destroyed by the fire.
Its owner was a North Franklin Street resident, according to the incident report.
Police did not give a motive for the alleged arson.
The 2002 Chevrolet Impala destroyed by the arson fire had not been reported stolen and was registered to a woman who lives on North Franklin Street, police said. The vehicle is driven by one of the woman’s sons.
Bonds was being held Thursday morning at the Clarke County Jail with no bail having been set.