03/27/2017 15:51 EDT | Updated 03/28/2018 01:12 EDT

Coroner says carbon monoxide suspected in deaths of four people in B.C.

ASHCROFT, B.C. — British Columbia's coroners service suspects carbon monoxide killed a family of four in their home in the province's Interior.

Toxicology tests were underway and the coroners service said it expects the results later this week. The agency did not identify the source of the carbon monoxide gas.

A woman who died alongside her two boys and spouse — whose names have not been released — was remembered Monday by Ashcroft Mayor Jack Jeyes as a soft-spoken, happy person.

Jeyes said he employed the woman as a housekeeper and that she lived with her family in the nearby community of Venables Valley.

"She worked really hard and she was very busy with her kids. She was trying to fit some work in along with taking care of kids and all those neat things that moms have to do," he said.

"She was a very, very pleasant person, happy, with a very soft personality."

Jeyes said there is no power in Venables Valley and that many residents use generators.

RCMP officers who were responding to a request for a check on the home found the four bodies inside on Friday.

Jeyes said he'd known the woman for over 2 1/2 years but had not seen her for about two months because the family had gone away on vacation.

"People are shocked, they're saddened," he said, adding residents of Venables Valley often shop in Ashcroft.

David Musterer, a member of the Venables Valley community, said on the weekend that the tragedy has deeply affected everyone in the area who is grieving for the family.

The coroners service said carbon monoxide gas is produced during the burning of any fossil fuel such as wood, gasoline, natural or propane gas.

It said the use of a carbon monoxide detector is a reliable method of early detection of the gas in a home but does not replace the need for regular and qualified servicing of all gas appliances and wood-burning stoves.

Anyone who suspects exposure to carbon monoxide, which is colourless and odourless, should immediately leave the residence and get medical help.

The Canadian Safety Council says on its website that carbon monoxide is North America's leading cause of fatal poisonings.

It says someone who is exposed to the gas can quickly become confused and unable to realize their life is in danger, and that impaired vision and loss of hearing are also symptoms.

Shortness of breath, a slight headache, nausea and dizziness are symptoms of low exposure, while extreme exposure to carbon monoxide gas can lead to collapse and death because it blocks the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream, the website says.

The council advises people to install a certified carbon monoxide alarm in their home and check it regularly to make sure the battery is working.

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver, follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.