Most of the apartments were in the midst of renovations, Jason Evans, a spokesman for Dallas-Fire Rescue, told WFAA-TV. Firefighters rescued a dog from the only occupied apartment, but the woman who lived there was not home when the fire started.
"It's disbelief, just like a movie," Iesha Brown, a neighborhood resident, told WFAA. "I've never seen anything like this in my life. It's devastating. This is so sad."
Another neighbor, Monte Martin, said he watched "the billowing flame of fire" move quickly down the two-story block-long building.
Firefighters spent several hours bringing the fire under control after it was reported around 6:10 p.m. They were expected to remain at the scene into Thursday.
Evans said one firefighter suffered a minor injury. Two grass fires sparked by burning debris were quickly extinguished.