Rick Ricardo was at his neighbor's apartment at around 1 p.m. Friday when he looked out the window and saw only one thing — black smoke.
A fire was suddenly raging at the adjacent apartment building, and Ricardo said people were scrambling to escape.
Ricardo went outside to see if he could help and though the thick smoke noticed an apartment maintenance worker calling for help.
Lowering his head and walking through the smoke, Ricardo got to the burning building and saw a man in his 20s on the ground, wearing just a towel, covered in black soot with blood coming from his mouth. The injured man had jumped from the second floor of the complex to escape the flames.
"We've got to get him out of here," Ricardo told the maintenance worker. "This place is about to pop."
They carried the man to safety before emergency personnel arrived. He was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek; the severity of his injuries is unknown.
It was the only reported injury from a two-alarm fire that gutted a number of apartments and damaged at least 12, San Ramon Valley Fire officials said.
"When we arrived the fire had spread to most of the building," San Ramon Valley Fire official Steve Hart said. "The wind was a factor, and embers were flying everywhere."
The damage was so extensive it was difficult for firefighters to safely reach parts of the fire. It was under control by 2:15 p.m., but flames were still visible at 3:20 p.m.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A previous fire struck the Country Brook apartment complex two years ago. A three-alarm fire damaged 16 units and caused an estimated $3.2 million of damage.
— Bay City News contributed to this report