Firefighters reached him using a ladder as flames from a neighboring apartment drew near, Snohomish County Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said.
The man, whose age was not available, climbed down the ladder on his own and was not injured.
Fire, smoke and water damaged 12 units, Hynes said.
The blaze was started by burning incense touching something that caught fire.
"It was accidental," Hynes said.
The Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross was working with residents of the Taluswood Apartments to help them find temporary housing. The number of displaced residents was not immediately available. Residents of all but two of the 12 apartments had renters insurance.
The first fire calls came in around 7:30 a.m.
By the time firefighters arrived, flames could be seen coming out of the man's third-floor apartment.
More than 35 firefighters battled the blaze. Lynnwood and Shoreline firefighters joined District 1 in getting the fire under control.
One tenant was examined by medics for smoke inhalation but didn't need to go to the hospital, Hynes said.
Firefighters also rescued a large dog from one of the apartments.
"It took about 40 minutes to bring the Mountlake Terrace fire under control," Hynes said.
No damage estimate was immediately available.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org
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