COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Three people, including a 2-year-old, were found dead in a home on Benning Drive early Thursday morning, according to the Muscogee County Coroner's Office.
Coroner Buddy Bryan said he was called to a home at 931 Benning Drive around 1:30 a.m.
Four people were inside with a gas generator running as an alternative power source. Three of the residents were pronounced dead from carbon monoxide poisoning at 2:10 a.m.
The three people have been identified as Emily Perez, 2, Jose Perez, 23, and Edilberto Moreno, 27.
The fourth person is in critical condition at Midtown Medical Center.
"Your body can handle a small amount of carbon monoxide and it can deal with it, but over time, it builds up, it becomes obviously toxic and once you get over a couple hundred part per million then you really start seeing some severe symptoms," said Columbus Fire Marshall Ricky Shores.
Officials with the Columbus Fire Department say they believe toxic levels of the gas built up as the group used the generator as a source of electricity.
Big advocates of smoke alarms and carbon detectors, fire officials say these kinds of tragedies are often more prevalent up north, where some turn to make-shift heating devices.
"It is rare but it does happen. Usually it's more prevalent in the northern states but obviously, it can happen anywhere," said Shores.
Thursday night, dozens gathered in south Columbus for a prayer vigil honoring the three victims.
The vigil was primarily for family and friends, who gathered at the family home on Benning Road. They prayed, sang, and shared memories.
The media relations department at Georgia Power released this statement:
"This is a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and their loved ones. If customers are having trouble paying their bill, we will make every effort to work with them to help maintain service and avoid disconnection."