Firefighters said they did not know someone was trapped inside the home when they first arrived.
"My neighbor was actually screaming, hurry up, hurry up, and get in the house, someone is actually in there," one resident said.
Moments later, firefighters pulled 77-year-old Marilyn MacNeil out in an ambulance gurney.
She had been trapped in the dining area by a fire which started in the kitchen.
MacNeil lived with her daughter and grandson, but they had just left the house for a short time when the blaze started.
"We keep a close eye on her, but it can be hard, suffering from dementia, memory loss, because things like that you just can't prepare for," MacNeil's grandson Victor Jackson said.
MacNeil was rushed to Duke Hospital, where her family says she suffered from significant smoke inhalation and some serious burns.
One neighbor fainted during the dramatic scene and another required aid as well after the tried to rescue the woman.
MacNeil's grandson said his grandmother's injuries could have been much worse, if firefighters did not arrive as soon as they did and if a next door neighbor had not alerted them an elderly woman was inside.
"I gave a lot of guys a pat on the shoulder," Jackson said. "Their hard work and their quick response."
Family members say the extent of MacNeil's burns are still unknown. She is currently listed in critical condition at Duke Hospital.
The house also sustained serious damage and there is no word yet on what caused the fire.