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SOUTH SACRAMENTO — A man is dead after an early morning apartment fire in South Sacramento.

It happened at an apartment complex near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and 43rd Avenue.

“My son woke up and said, ‘Dad, I smell smoke,’” Gilbert told FOX40.

Gilbert rushed outside of his South Sacramento apartment Sunday morning to find the unit above his in flames. He said all he could think of was his neighbors’ safety.

“Life comes first,” he said.

Without hesitation, he ran inside the burning apartment, where he found his neighbor unconscious.

“He was laying in the hallway next to the bedroom door,” Gilbert recalled. “I tried to pull him out myself but I couldn’t pull him fast enough, so I called my son. My son came and helped me pull him out to the porch.”

Gilbert thought he had brought his neighbor to safety, so he rushed to other units to make sure everyone else was OK.

By the time the fire department got there, his friend still hadn’t woken up. Emergency crews tried to revive him.

“I guess we didn’t do enough because he didn’t make it,” Gilbert said.

The man died in the hospital.

“He was part of the family,” said neighbor Samantha Lynch. “He was my husband’s best friend, so it’s kind of hard.”

Investigators are still looking into what caused the fire but they believe it started in the victim’s bedroom.

The fire did not spread to any other units but there was extensive smoke damage in several apartments.

Neighbors are just praying their friend is at peace.

“I thought that he was out of danger once we got him out. I guess it didn’t turn out like that,” Gilbert said.

“He’s in a better place,” Lynch said.

Official identification of the victim will come from the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.