"It was, like, really black," recalled tenant Valeria Garcia. "Like I could hardly breathe."
Garcia's family lives in one of the six units damaged by the fire. She says she ran in the burning building after her family got out safely.
"I went inside and I got the little doggie," she said. "He was like chained up to the little cage and I was like oh my God."
Investigators say four people were rushed to the hospital, two of them suffering chest pains.
The fire destroyed three upper units. There's water and smoke damage to three apartments below.
HFD District Chief Roy B. Moore explained, "It started on top. We don't know which one. We got arson in there investigating right now."
We could see arson investigators searching for evidence in the upstairs units where tenants suffered the most damage.
"We were trying to kick in the windows on the side, but we couldn't," Garcia recalled. "So then we got a big rock and we threw it and we went in there."
Garcia says during the fire her family pushed her to go back into the burning building a second time. It's a dangerous decision she says she almost regrets now.
"They were like, Valerie, go get the PS3, the TV and the xBox and the iPad," she said. "I was like, you know, that's scary," she said.
Firefighters say it's too soon to tell if this case may be linked the serial arsonist who's been targeting apartments across the city.