Firefighters battled the flames just after 11 a.m. on Parkville Drive, off Hoyle Drive near Millbrook Road.
One neighbor who was walking is dog said he could smell the fire blocks away.
"It was really black and it smelled," Zayvion Williamms said. "It was disgusting. It smelled really burnt. It was crazy."
Fire crews said protective firewalls helped prevent the flames from spreading to other homes.
"The firewall was very effective," said Chief of the Raleigh Fire Department, Michael Hayes. "It helped keep it confined to one unit. When we arrived the first and second floor of the end unit was fully involved. The guys hit from the outside, knocked it down some, and went in for search with the help of the firewall."
Images from Chopper 11 HD showed the end-unit home completely gutted after flames were seen shooting from the roof minutes earlier.
No one was injured, but authorities told ABC11 they're worried that firefighters could suffer from heat exhaustion.
That fear prompted firefighters to call in a second alarm.
"We get another group of firefighters, more engines, more ladder companies, and then we rotate our guys in and out more often," Hayes said.
Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the fire.