SALISBURY – Two people suffered fatal overdoses in a 24-hour span from a toxic batch of fentanyl, with five overdoses overall during that period, police said Wednesday. 

From Sunday morning to Monday morning, four people are believed to have overdosed – one of them twice – on the synthetic opioid within a square mile of each other. They ranged in age from 30 to 50, and all of the overdoses occurred in private homes. 

The overdoses have alarmed police Chief Thomas Fowler, who called the spike unprecedented in his six years leading the department. 

"I can't ever remember having this many in one weekend," Fowler said. 

As of Tuesday, there have been 43 reported opiate overdoses this year, six of them fatal, according to statistics released by the Police Department.

Fowler stressed there could be many more unreported overdoses. 

"If you suffer from addiction, be aware there is something out there causing more overdoses than we've experienced in the past," he said. 

So far, the most overdoses, seven, took place in September. None of them were fatal. Police said two fatal overdoses occurred in January and one each in June and September. 

In 2015, 18 people overdosed on drugs in town with six dying. In 2016, however, 55 people overdosed on drugs with nine dying.

Salisbury police Detective Keith Forget said he believes the "unbalanced batch" is coming from outside Salisbury and making its way through Greater Newburyport and beyond. 

Fowler urged people with a substance abuse problem to seek help. The department has access to a part-time drug counselor and a recovery coach thanks to its partnership with The Pettengill House. There are also three officers conducting outreach daily. 

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter@drogers41008

Opiate/heroin overdoses in Salisbury

January  2 opiate/heroin overdoses 0 nonfatal   2 fatal 

February      2 opiate/heroin overdoses  2 nonfatal

March      5 opiate/heroin overdoses 5 nonfatal

April      4  opiate/heroin overdoses 4 nonfatal

May 5  opiate/heroin overdoses 5 nonfatal

June 1 opiate/heroin overdoses   0 nonfatal    1 fatal

August        3  opiate/heroin overdoses 3 nonfatal

September    8 opiate/heroin overdoses 7 nonfatal    1 fatal

October   5  opiate/heroin overdoses 5 nonfatal

November     5  opiate/heroin overdoses 3 nonfatal 2 fatal 

Source: Salisbury Police Department

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