The complex houses the elderly, handicapped and disabled and sits parallel to the Rite Aid building at the edge of town.
Charles Vernon, a resident of the apartments for four years, said he reported the fire as soon as he noticed it.
"I first noticed it was on fire pretty early," he said. "When it started, it wasn't that much. It was right behind that dumpster there at Rite Aid."
What began small soon developed into something larger, covering a good portion of the hillside.
Since three fires where burning in Harlan County at one time, firefighters and forest rangers were rushing from one fire to the next.
Tim Price, a forest ranger with Kentucky Division of Forestry, was fighting another fire when he was sent to Cumberland.
"I took five men up there with me after we came off another fire," he said.
Price also said despite the fact that three fires were burning at once, it has been an average year for wildfires.
"A lot of times fires start by people burning trash or brush," he said. "But sometimes people set them. Arson is at least half or more of the fires. I'm not really sure about the one at Cumberland, because I wasn't there at the beginning of it. I suspect it was set."
Cumberland Fire Chief Fess Eldridge, who said he also suspected arson, kept a close eye on the fire and the apartment complex.
"It would have posed a danger to the apartments, but not Rite Aid," he said. "We let it burn down. The more it burns, the closer it burns down, the less we'll have to burn later on."
Vernon said he and other residents were awake until the fire trucks left.
"We were very concerned because it was getting pretty close to the buildings," he explained. "I went to sleep about four o'clock this morning, which was when the fire trucks left."