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Mass Fentanyl Overdose In Chico Prompts Police To Warn Of Illicit Drug's Dangers

CHICO (CBS13) — The opioid epidemic is hitting close to home. This weekend in Chico one man died and a dozen others were rushed to the hospital after overdosing on fentanyl.

The incident happened on the 1100 block of Santana Court.

Chico Police Chief Michael O'Brien says fentanyl is a dangerous drug. It's so dangerous that the first two officers that responded to Saturday's call needed to be treated at the hospital.

After the frightening incident, O'Brien is warning the public about the dangers of the drug.

Neighbor Barbara Lutz says seeing multiple first responders gathered in her neighborhood Saturday morning was unnerving.

"They had 14 ambulances come in," Lutz said.

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Lutz said she was not surprised when the first responders stopped at the house they did.

"We've seen the cars coming and going, maybe in exchange for drugs. We figured it was that," Lutz said.

Chico police say the first officers who arrived on the scene found 13 people suffering from a fentanyl overdose.

One man died a the scene and 12 others were rushed to the hospital.

"It can kill you. It can flat kill you and it can kill you in a heartbeat," O'Brien said.

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O'Brien said his department has had to deal with heroin in the past, but they rarely encountered fentanyl.

"We knew fentanyl at some point was coming. It was kind of starting on the East Coast and moving back to the Midwest and making its way back to the West Coast," O'Brien said.

In the last six months, Chico officers have been equipped with an antidote to fentanyl, naloxone. Still, he warns that fentanyl is a new class of drug with deadly consequences.

"It doesn't take much to cause exposure. It can be absorbed through the skin, you can breathe it. All those types of things, so it's very very dangerous," O'Brien said.

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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most cases of fentanyl-related overdose and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally-made fentanyl.

"You don't know where that stuff is coming from. What it's been laced with," he said.

Now, as the police department works to figure out where the batch of drugs came from, Chief O'Brien has this warning: "Never take anything you don't know. Certainly illicit drugs. These are not dispensed from a pharmacy."

The chief says of the 12 taken to the hospital, most have already been released. Four of the people who were in critical condition Saturday are still in the hospital but are doing better.

On Monday, Butte County Sheriff's deputies responded to three more adults for a possible overdose. A female and two males were found at the Gold County Casino with a five-month-old child.

The adults showed signs of overdose and were taken to the hospital in stable condition. The child was also taken to the hospital and was in stable condition. Child Protective Services was brought on to ensure the safety of the child.

The sheriff's office was working Monday to determine if the overdose was connected to the mass overdose in Chico. Investigators had not determined what illegal drug was being used, but they said it was likely heroin.

"I am very concerned about this situation. This is a significant public safety and public health risk. We are concerned that the potency of the illegal drugs on the street right now is very high or the possibility of the drugs being laced with another substance, which is causing these overdoses," said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.

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