Smoke killed woman in fire, police say

Staff WriterApril 16, 2009 

— A woman who lost her life in an apartment fire last week died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, police said Wednesday.

Firefighters found the body of Sarah Alford, 51, on Friday morning in the upstairs bedroom of her apartment at 1948 Spring Drive at the Greenbrier Apartments in Garner. The Wake County fire marshal said Wednesday that most likely the fire started because Alford was smoking in bed.

The state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill did not find anything suspicious about her death, police reported.

Alford's mother, Elizabeth Taylor of Lumberton, said her daughter was a lifelong smoker who picked up the habit at age 14.

Ray Echevarria, the Wake County fire marshal, said firefighters found ashtrays and cigarettes throughout the apartment.

"She apparently smoked quite a bit," Echevarria said Wednesday.

Neighbors and apartment employees said Alford was a tall, brown-haired woman who kept to herself. She was often seen walking her 10-year-old white Chihuahua, Lucky, who escaped the fire unharmed.

Lucky was taken in by a neighbor who also owns a Chihuahua, police reported.

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