Darren Edwards, 48, poured a flammable liquid onto the floor by his front door and set light to it, causing a substantial fire to take hold in the second floor flat.
Firefighters raced to the scene in Belconnen Road in Bestwood, shortly before 3am on August 7 last year and evacuated Edwards and his neighbours.
As the fire was brought under control, Edwards was arrested and taken into custody.
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He admitted to starting the blaze deliberately but claimed he had not intended to hurt any of his neighbours.
At Nottingham Crown Court, he was jailed for three years and eight months after admitting arson.
Detective Inspector Ruby Burrow, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Edwards could very easily have killed or seriously injured himself or others during this incident.
“I hope this incident will serve as a warning to others about the consequences of starting fires deliberately.”