Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed flames through the roof of the two-story, eight unit, building.
Dense heavy black smoke was visible for miles.
"I said oh no," eyewitness Emiko Hamilton said. "I was standing by the door and looking outside and fire shoot up in the second apartment."
Hamilton says all she and other neighbors could do was watch flames devour Mission Capital Crossing Apartments building 4903.
"I was on top of the house just shooting video footage - the fire just shooting out the top of the house, the water's everywhere fire men everywhere," eyewitness Pebbles Moody said. "That whole building is burned up."
The battalion chief says crews arrived within four minutes of the first call.
A two-alarm was sounded calling for six engines, two ladders, two rescues and 50 firefighters. Wake EMS and the police department also assisted.
"Because of the magnitude of the fire we used major large caliber streams in the building," Raleigh Fire Asst Chief Rusty Styons said. "All eight units have been pretty much destroyed significant damage to the entire structure."
Only seven of the apartments had residents.
Officials say all the residents have been accounted for. Managers at the apartment complex say they will give the displaced residents new apartments. The Red Cross is also helping the residents.
Triangle Area Chapter Red Cross Emergency Services Director Daniel Ng says disaster relief will help with food, medication and shelter in the coming days.
"The most important thing is get the resident out of the environment and a warm place to stay first," he said.
Investigators say after examining the fire scene, they concluded that the fire was accidental.
They say ashes from a fire place were improperly stored in a pale on the deck outside and extreme wind conditions assisted with fire development.