UPDATE: DEQ investigates baffling fish deaths

Posted at 4:00 PM, Jul 11, 2013

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR) - The Department of Environmental Quality confirmed its investigators are working to determine what killed hundreds of fish in a Colonial Heights creek.

Neighbors who live near Swift Creek in Colonial Heights discovered the dead carp after a foul stench filled the air late last week.

"It was a putrid smell. We thought something was dying. We took a walk through the woods and didn't see anything," Tina Wilson said.

She said over the weekend her boyfriend finally found the source of the stench.

"There was hundreds of dead carp from the bridge all the way down towards the dam," Wilson said. "They were stuck in the trees. You could see their white bellies up against the banks. They were everywhere. It stunk."

Researchers just wish someone would have called them last Friday or Saturday, when hundreds of dead carp were spotted floating along a section of Swift Creek.

While a positive identification of what caused the fish kill might not be possible because of the time-lapse, researchers took readings and water samples to try to solve the mystery.

One thing in their favor, less than a half mile upstream, water readings were taken on Wednesday, near the Lakeview Dam, un-related to the fish kill.

Wilson and other neighbors are concerned because they fish the creek and eat what they catch.

"I'm afraid that somebody's put a chemical or drained their pool or did something to shock the fish in the area and it's killed them," she said. "I don't want to eat out of the creek. I don't want my kids to swim in it."

Bill Smith has lived along the creek since 1982. He said this is the first time he has ever seen so many fish die there at once.

"I want them to find out why. Something is wrong for that many fish to die at the same time," Smith told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil.

DEQ says the test results should be back in about a month.