The fire started just after 5 p.m., destroyed 12 units and displaced 20 residents from the 2-story structure.
Some residents were coming home from work when they saw their home consumed by flames.
"As soon as I hit the intersection and saw the corner, the smoke was on," resident Constance Starkey said. "I knew either me or one of the neighbors was in a lot of trouble."
It took firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the blaze.
"It was pretty intense, as intense as I've seen in a while," said Assistant Fire Chief Frank Warner, Raleigh Fire Department.
Most of the residents escaped on their own while authorities had to alert others. Some residents had pets in their units.
Siciley was one of at least two cats firefighters pulled out alive. Starkey says the cat was in the burning building the entire time.
"The whole burn, the whole smoke, the whole everything," she added.
Starkey calls the firefighters lifesavers. She says she lost everything she owns but that doesn't matter because her two cats, Titan and Siciley are still around.
"What matters is pretty much out of that house," Starkey said. "That's all I'll glad for. The unexpected happens and you just gotta pick up and start over."
Several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and a back injury. Their conditions are not known.
The Red Cross is assisting residents who need help.