DURHAM (WTVD) -- Three families were displaced after a fast moving fire at the Lakemoor Apartment complex in Durham on Thursday afternoon.
An official told ABC11 the fire started on the first level and quickly climbed to the stories above.
Residents went to great lengths to help their neighbors. That's especially true for one big brother. Jacques Harrell risked his own life to save his siblings from the intense fire.
"They probably don't know what's going on. They're probably scared," said Harrell. "All I know is I needed to get them."
Harrell was returning home from a barbecue, saw the smoke, and raced up to the third story where the family lives. He said flames were spewing thick smoke into the air.
"Everything kind of went black because there was so much smoke," he said.
Harrell rounded up his brother and sisters, and even carried one girl in his arms. She wasn't able to get out on her own.
"One of my sister's legs... She just got surgery the other day so I knew I had to get her downstairs," said Harrell.
Once he guided everyone to the ground floor, Harrell realized one family member was missing. A sister was still sleeping in a bedroom.
"I ran over there to the room and wake her up. She got up screaming and crying," said Harrell. "It was a scary experience to be honest."
A number of fire crews responded to the quick moving fire. Some residents called 911.
"It just went up. Everything started peeling off the walls and everything," said eyewitness Angela Vick. "It just happened so quickly. One minute you see smoke, next minute flames."
Firefighters were eventually able to douse the flames and get everyone who lives in the complex out safely.
Later, residents were able to go back into their apartments and salvage what they could. Residents were tossing personal belonging in trash bags. They peered into their places to see if there was anything else that could be saved.
Harrell didn't care to go back in. He already saved what was most important to him.
"My family is everything to me to be honest. So that's only my concern over here. Everyone around me got out too, but it's all about my family at the end of the day," he said.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.