DURANGO, Colo. (AP) – Officials say fish populations in the Animas River have been severely depleted due to suffocation caused by debris from the 416 Fire. The Durango Herald reported Saturday fish populations are down about 80% due to runoff filled with ash from the fire.

Animas River (credit: Durango.org)

The fire burned more than 54,000 acres of mostly U.S. Forest Service land in the Hermosa Creek watershed in southwest Colorado.

State wildlife officials say heavy rains and flooding from July to September 2018 caused the runoff.

The first full-scale Colorado Parks and Wildlife survey conducted since then found a 64% decline from the river’s historical average amount of trout.

Officials say there was a 95% decline from the river’s historical average of fish longer than 14 inches.

In December, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials poured 1,500 rainbow trout into the river in an effort to restore the population.

RELATED: Railroad Faces $25 Million Lawsuit Over ‘416 Fire’ Near Durango

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