The garden-style apartment complex is on Farm Road.
Dozens of people who live in Hillsborough Gardens Apartments could do nothing but watch the flames.
A neighbor took cellphone video:
"Everybody was in shock, they couldn't believe it. They didn't know if there was somebody in there," said tenant Ellen Ravioli. "Nobody knew what was going on, nobody knew what caused it."
The fire spread through the roof and extended to three more apartments before it was contained.
The fire spread, residents say so fast, that there was no time to even try to get to the apartment.
"We look outside and somebody is screaming 'fire', and I heard someone scream, 'help me', and we thought it was coming from that side and someone was playing around," said tenant Sally Terence. "But when I saw the cop pulling onto the lawn here I realized he was running that way and then our neighbors came out and said there's a huge fire, so we ran out with our friends."
"Did you see anybody on the balcony?" Eyewitness News asked.
"No, I saw the fire truck preparing the hoses," said John Schwartz, a tenant.
The fire began sometime after 10 p.m. Monday. Three people died in the upstairs corner unit, one person has been listed as unaccounted for.
Fire investigators are focusing a lot of attention on the corner room, said to be a bedroom, as they look for the cause.
"The balconies are so low, you could jump. Don't know frame of mind, stayed and perished," said Pat Terence, a tenant.
A total of three units were damaged, because the fire traveled through the attic space.
But all the victims were found in the one unit where the fire began.
"It's terrible, and only this morning we found out three people died. It's terrible," said Marta Schwartz, a tenant.