The fire started around 5:00 p.m. at Adeline and 29th streets on Tuesday.
Residents said it would have been even worse if the police hadn't gotten there so quickly and acted so heroically.
Broken windows are a sign of the desperation by people caught inside an Oakland apartment building.
"I put both of my hands through the windows. I am surprised I didn't get cut. But I broke out all of the windows screaming and screaming," said apartment resident Diane Griffin.
Six Oakland Police Officers were first on the scene. They rushed inside the burning building grabbing people, and pulled them out.
"She was dragging me outside of the window and she was pushing me out the police and the firefighters got me out," said apartment resident Sharon Moss.
One person was killed and three others injured.
Investigators say it doesn't appear suspicious and something electrical probably started it. Firefighters say there are conflicting reports if the smoke alarms worked.
Thomas Hampton was inside with the flames and his girlfriend. She never made it out.
Knocked the window out and jumped out the window, and I'll catch it. So I come around the window and I was yelling Janice knock the window, knock the window, and he heard it but I guess the smoke got to it," said Hampton.
Many others were spared Thomas' grief because of the actions of the six officers, who were treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital.
"It is very brave. You have people that need help to get out of the building and they put their life on the line to help the people," said Sgt. Andy McNeil from Oakland Police.
Several hours after the fire was out, 57 residents are still waiting for shelter.
Red Cross workers say they are working with the city of Oakland to try to find these people a place to stay.