Native Arizona trout rescued from toxic ash flows from Frye Fire

The massive Frye Fire near Mount Graham threatens to send toxic ash flows into creeks and streams in the area.

Biologists and wildlife managers rushed to the area to save the rare Gila trout, which are native to Arizona.

The Arizona Game and Fish crew saved 79 fish from Ash Creek and 111 from Frye Creek, transporting them to the Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico.

Thirteen people hiked steep trails in full fire gear to reach the populations of fish.

The rescue was a race against the clock because monsoon storms cause burn scar ash flows to reach the creeks. The ash is toxic to fish. Burn areas are also prone to flooding.

The fish will be moved to supplement broodstock and others will be returned to streams when the monsoon is over.

There are two species of trout native to Arizona: Gila trout and Apache trout. Gila trout are listed as "threatened," under the Endangered Species Act.

The Frye Fire is 93 percent contained. It burned 48,000 acres and was started by lightning June 7.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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