NANFA-- Flame Retardant Kills Fish in Ore.'
Mon, 19 Aug 2002 21:49:50 EDT

BEND, Ore. (AP) - An air tanker fighting a wildfire in central Oregon
accidentally dumped up to 2,000 gallons of flame retardant into Fall River,
killing nearly all the fish along a 4-mile stretch, officials said.

The chemicals also reached the Deschutes River above the central Oregon town
of Sunriver, officials said.

``The water just went from crystal clear to opaque red,'' said Steve Avery, a
fisherman who was on the Fall River when the retardant flowed downstream
Thursday afternoon.

``We saw dead fish, everything from 8-inch hatchery redsides to 24-inch brown
trout. It was just awful.''

Clair Kunkel, program supervisor for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department
said the drop killed hundreds of hatchery-bred rainbow trout, native band
trout, white fish, and brown and brook trout.

Wildlife officials were still trying to determine what ingredients in the
retardant were toxic to the fish.

The main ingredient in the retardant is ammonium polyphosphate, a commonly
used agricultural fertilizer, according to officials with the Deschutes
National Forest. The substance also contains tiny amounts of clay thickeners,
corrosion inhibitors and coloring.

``We realize this happened under emergency conditions, close to residential
areas,'' Kunkel said. ``Folks were fighting fire in the best way they could
at the time. It's an unfortunate accident.''

At the time, the tanker was fighting a one-acre wildfire that erupted
Thursday about a mile southeast of the Fall River fish hatchery. That blaze
was under control Saturday, with no damage to homes.

08/17/02 12:09 EDT
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