The fire severely injured the woman and put five other families out of their homes, 17 people in all.
"The apartment was all flames, about chin height. After that, there was smoke everywhere," neighbor Demetrius Jetton said from the emergency room at Marin General Hospital. He is the neighbor who heard the alarm, rushed in and saw a 49-year-old woman lying unconscious on the floor.
He first tried to pick her up. "But she was so hot that it burned me to touch her, you know. She was not on fire but the burns were pretty bad. You could see the skin peeling off," he said.
The San Rafael Fire Department says the blaze began at about 9:15 a.m. in a lower apartment, with smoke floating up into the units above.
Emil Tystov escaped through a window, then firemen helped pull out his baby and wife.
The blaze gave them little warning. "I was sleeping. I just heard the alarm," he said.
It's a miracle that other apartments didn't burn. Officially, fire investigators have yet to identify a cause. Unofficially, neighbors have their own theories about what happened to the woman in the burned apartment.
"She does like to burn incense. Something must have caught fire but she was passed out and was not able to catch the fire," neighbor Allison Lucia said.
From all this, there is one certainty. Jetton can sleep tonight knowing he did his best to save a life, but he is not comfortable with being called a hero. "Most people in the situation I feel like would have done the same thing," he said.
The condition of the woman who was rescued is unknown at this time.