NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A Norfolk man is being charged with burning down his own house.

Donald William Stricker has been arrested and charged with arson, regarding a fire that took place on the 500 block of Birmingham Avenue Monday afternoon.

According to neighbors, he lived in the house with his wife and their three children. They were not home at the time.

Witnesses described the fire as an explosion. The second floor of the house went up in flames.

“I would say it had to be a propane tank, for it to shake the neighborhood like it did,” said neighbor Ken Smith. “What he was doing up there in that bedroom who knows, I don’t know.”

“It almost knocked me off the chair in the house,” said neighbor Robert Myers.

Myers said he saw Stricker walking out of the house moments after hearing the explosion.

“He went across the street, the fire department came, investigators talking to him, and the next thing I knew they got him in handcuffs and they wouldn’t say why,” said Myers.

Myers described Stricker as a nice guy, retired from the Navy, who was working at Kroger while also going back to school.

“Him and his wife are not very talkative or anything, we would say, ‘Hi how are you doing,’ and they would say, ‘hi,’ but other than that, normal neighbors,” said Myers.

Neighbors are just thankful that the wife and children were not inside the house. They are currently staying with family in the Hampton Roads area.

“They definitely had their angels watching over them and they are safe now and that is a positive part of the whole situation to know that people’s lives were spared,” said neighbor Susan Hull.

The exact cause of the fire and motive and still under investigation.