A charity boss has spoken of her sadness following the death of a 56-year-old Accrington man.
Hugh Johnstone, who died overnight between January 28 and 29, had been a regular visitor to Maundy Relief’s drop-in service in Accrington for a number of years.
The death of Mr Johnstone, of Nelson Street, Accrington, was the third in a week in East Lancashire which police are linking to heroin use.
An inquest into his death will be opened at Blackburn Coroners Court on Thursday, February 11.
Lucy Hardwick, Maundy Relief manager, said staff were truly saddened to hear of his death.
She said: “He was someone we have known over many years who tried to seek help for his problems. We are very sad, it’s always sad, especially when someone is well known to us.
“We would advise anyone who needs help for drug problems to come and speak to us or to seek help from Inspire.”
Mr Johnstone’s death comes after a 34-year-old man was discovered collapsed in Blackburn on January 24. He later died in hospital.
Another man aged 36 was found dead at an address in Colne on Thursday, January 28.
A further two men remain in hospital suffering similar symptoms, one from Accrington and one from Blackburn.
The deaths are being treated as unexplained at this stage and enquiries are continuing but police believe that all three of the men that died had taken heroin shortly before their deaths.
Ms Hardwick said the charity is now warning people about the dangers of the drug.
She added: “We have made everyone who comes into the Relief aware of what’s happening. They need to be cautious.
“The best advice is to avoid it altogether.
“There does seem to be a growing number of users in the area, which is really worrying.
“I hope news of these sad deaths will encourage anyone with a problem to seek help.”
Detective Inspector Tim McDermott, of Lancashire CID, said: “It remains unclear if there is any direct links between the sad deaths of these three men.
“However, given they have taken place in a comparatively short period of time and all within East Lancashire I think it’s right that we remind drug users within our communities the need to be particularly cautious.
“We would like to reassure the local community that we are carrying out a detailed and robust investigation following these deaths and enquiries will be continuing.”
Anyone with any information should contact the police on 101, or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.