Carbon monoxide poisoning suspected in woman’s east Charlotte apartment death

CHARLOTTE — Firefighters said a woman died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning Tuesday morning following a small fire inside an east Charlotte apartment.

Around 4 a.m., fire crews responded to carbon monoxide alarms going off at an apartment complex on Kelston Place, near Albemarle Road. When they got there, firefighters heard the alarms and forced their way into an apartment on the second floor where they found a smoldering fire in the kitchen.

In another room, they found an unconscious woman and tried to perform CPR. She was taken to the hospital but officials said she did not survive.

Family members identified the victim as Kimberly Wallace. They told Channel 9 that she was a loving person.

Wallace’s nephew, Dwayne Mixson, said his aunt loved to garden. Potted plants lined her balcony.

“She was a loving mother,” he told Channel 9. “She had three grandchildren and she lived a wonderful life.”

Mixson said his entire family is still trying to process what happened to his aunt, and is asking for prayers.

“I texted her and she said that she loved me and I said, ‘I love you, too,’ and that was the last time I spoke with her.”

Twenty apartments were subsequently evacuated until CO levels were deemed safe. No other injuries were reported.

Fire department investigators ruled the kitchen fire was accidental due to unattended cooking.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Wallace’s carbon monoxide detector was working.

On the fire department’s website, the number one listed cause of home fires is unattended cooking, and carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S. Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because you cannot see, taste or smell it -- which is why working CO detectors are so important.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.

(WATCH BELOW: Carbon monoxide scare at North Carolina public housing complex)