by Rob Malcolm

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Neighbors are picking up the pieces after a fire broke out in an apartment Saturday. They say if it wasn’t for the quick thinking of a building manager, it could have been a lot worse.

Flames ripped through the apartment complex on the 3900 block of 43rd Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. The single-alarm fire was knocked down by 30 firefighters who made a grim discovery.

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“I never thought I was going to wake up and find out the worst,” said Cecil Jackson, a neighbor. “I still can’t believe it.”

Jackson says it was his friend who was the only fatality in the fire. He was in a second-floor room at the time of the fire. The man in his 40’s was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Neighbors did what they could to help.

“He was in his room and they tried to drag him out but he was too big,” he said. “They helped him on the outside and stuff but he was gone then.”

Taking the loss personally was a man who was being consoled by neighbors. He pulled the victim out but was too distraught to speak on camera.

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Charmaine Jones said everyone there considered him a hero.

“He saved us; he was there and he let us know that there was a fire and we all got out safe because of him. He saved us,” Jones said.

The fire displaced nine people, including three children who are all now being assisted by the red cross. Jones, like many others, are trying to make the best of it.

“I actually sadly don’t have renters insurance but luckily, I have some savings and a job,“ she said.

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The cause of the fire is still under investigation.