Hazmat incident in Tower District linked to Fresno County fentanyl overdose

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the third time in less than a week, residents living near a Tower District complex have crime scene tape, patrol cars and hazmat teams surrounding their neighborhood.

"I came earlier, and they wouldn't let me out of my home," neighbors didn't want to show their face on camera but say they're on edge after learning of three fentanyl overdoses in their area.

"It just goes to show it can go anywhere. It can be in your backyard," one neighbor said.

The property manager tells Action News by phone, the business residential complex has been problematic in recent years and is already starting the eviction process for at least one of the people believed to be linked to the investigation.

Monday afternoon first responders held a joint press conference to address what they're calling a growing problem in Fresno County.

RELATED: Law enforcement issue warning after fentanyl overdose leaves 1 dead, 2 injured

It was a week ago, three people were found unconscious after overdosing on what we've now learned was synthetic fentanyl.

One died at the hospital; the other two were treated then questioned by police.

"They believed on its face value that it was cocaine and it turned out it was fentanyl," said Fresno Police Deputy Chief Pat Farmer.

Doctors typically prescribe the powerful painkiller to terminally ill patients who have become tolerant of other drugs like morphine.

The drug is so powerful, it's prescribed in micrograms. It can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

Since fentanyl started growing in popularity, first responders began carrying naloxone to revive overdose victims, and for their protection as well.

"If they're exposed to it and they go to a call for service or reason to believe there's fentanyl that's become airborne," Deputy Chief Farmer said.

Pictures from the DEA and raids across the country show how small a lethal dose is.

State public health numbers show in 2017 429 people died from a fentanyl overdose.

Drug task forces have seized at least 2 kilos of fentanyl in Fresno County since 2010.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims stressed that this is more than a law enforcement issue, it is a public health issue that needs to be handled. She wants to remind people that they can anonymously drop off drugs, prescription or otherwise, in a drop box in front of the sheriff's office.
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