The fire started shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday on the front porch of a wood framed house on Powell Street in the Massey Hill section of Fayetteville.
Officials said Billy Dale Walker, who rents a room inside the house, allegedly set the home on fire while three people were inside.
Neighbor Michael Guillette Jr. said he noticed smoke coming from the house and ran inside to help get everyone out.
"Within like three to five minutes, the whole house was up in flames," he said. "There was like three explosions ... the meter box flew off the house."
Guillette's father said Walker was upset and told him he was going to burn the place down.
"He wanted somebody to go to the store and get alcohol for him and we told him we weren't going to do it and he just got made and said, 'I'm a professional arsonist,'" he said. "He went out the door and said, 'I'll show ya'll,' and about 10 minutes later the house was in flames. [sic]"
Walker was the only person burned. He was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and released before he could be arrested and charged.
Authorities said the fire damaged the living room and front porch of the house, causing an estimated $30,000 worth of damage.
The American Red Cross has been called in to help the displaced residents.