Laura Moore, News 14 Carolina

In this case, the renters deactivated the carbon monoxide alarm, putting themselves and all their neighbors at risk.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Fire Department says that one family is lucky to be alive after their apartment filled with dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide Monday night.

Just before 9 p.m. Monday, Piedmont Natural Gas received a call to investigate an odor in the Laurel Walk Apartments, which are located off Providence Road.

Once a Piedmont employee got inside the family’s apartment, he knew there was a carbon monoxide emergency.

The two adults and two children living at the home were checked by Medic crews on scene. They were OK, but the carbon monoxide levels could have been fatal.

“The Piedmont Natural Gas employee carries his own monitoring equipment, and when he walked into this apartment, the readings on his portable monitor very quickly exceeded 400 parts per million — a dangerous, dangerous level,” said Capt. Rob Brisley of the CFD.

The two adults and two children living at the home were checked by Medic crews on scene.

“This was a very poisonous, almost dangerous, condition in this apartment complex, and fire officials were looking at a preliminary cause related to a problem or a faulty furnace in the second-floor apartment,” Brisley said.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department conducted a follow-up investigation and found that Laurel Walk did comply with an ordinance that requires carbon monoxide detectors in all residences. In this case, however, the renters deactivated the device, putting themselves and all their neighbors at risk.

Carbon monoxide alarms are required in all Mecklenburg County apartment buildings. The device “may protect other people in other units from carbon monoxide leaking through walls or up over ceilings,” said Dr. Stephen Keener of the Health Department.

The Health Department hopes that the ordinance will help put alarms into homes. “The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure that people have the alarms and that they’re used,” Keener said. “The purpose of the ordinance is not to prosecute people for not having them.” If a citation is not enough to get people to comply, perhaps the life-threatening nature of the gas should be.

The family “had the ideal symptoms that mimic carbon monoxide poisoning, and if they had gone to sleep tonight with these kinds of readings, it could have been very tragic in the morning,” Brisley said.