The blaze quickly spread, forcing several families to flee their homes.
One couple says its dog, Buddy, first alerted them that something was wrong.
"He barked before the fire even happened and we brushed it off," resident Meleonesse Green said. "Then the neighbors came banging on the door and the whole building was in flames."
Flames consumed half the units of the eight-unit building, while the other four suffered extensive smoke and water damage.
"We got out it wasn't burned, but the fire department had to knock through the wall to get to the next one," resident Danny Mealy said. "We've got medicines in there, bunch of stuff we got to get, we've got pictures in there, my grandmother, she passed away, and I only have one more picture of her."
No one was hurt due to the blaze, although one resident received treatment for a leg injury and one firefighter was hurt while fighting the fire.
"A gentleman had some injuries to his wrist, he was in the process of working a hose, a large diameter hose, and fell," Raleigh Fire Department Asst Chief Frank Warner said.
Fire crews didn't encounter any obstacles while fighting the blaze and were able to keep it from spreading to any other nearby buildings.
Authorities say evidence shows that the fire originated in a front corner apartment, but they are still investigating.
One firefighter and one resident were taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Three units are uninhabitable and 16 residents were displaced. The Red Cross is assisting those residents.
Raleigh police questioned residents and say they may have gotten some leads on a possible arsonist. An investigator at the scene told a fire official investigators are on the lookout for a man police have identified.
So far, there has been no word of an arrest.