The suspect was identified as former student 24-year-old Joshua Daniel Edwards, of Lexington.
The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday at the Davie Poplar tree in the McCorkle Place area of campus.
Video from witnesses showed the professor trying to stomp out a fire at the base of the tree moments before the explosion occurred.
A professor — identified as Dan Reichart — fell to the ground and then quickly ran away with burns to his face and arms.
Edwards’ parents told FOX8 he suffers from mental health issues and they haven’t talked to him in several days.
They also confirmed he was taken to a mental health facility for treatment.
Charges have yet to be formally filed against Edwards; however, potential charges are listed as arson.
Witnesses said they saw the man taking off his clothes and could hear him saying “Hail Satan!”