Neighbors concerned after fish, organisms die in river

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McDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. - Families in the North Carolina mountains are making last-minute changes to Fourth of July plans after something killed every living thing in a popular river.

Advisories are posted along a portion of North Fork River that feeds into Lake James, and dead fish can be seen in the water.

The North Fork River flows in front of Catherine Thomas' home. She and her family don’t have any plans to venture into the water after fish started dying.

"It's scary because we don't know how far out that might reach into the water system. We have wells here. We're concerned about that and we don't know what it is,” Thomas said.

Thomas isn't alone.

McDowell County Emergency Services and the U.S. Forest Service are advising people to stay out of the river and the area where it feeds into Lake James in McDowell County.

Richelle Bailey, the public information officer, said lizards, frogs, fish, crawfish, worms and turtles have died in the river.

State and federal authorities are meeting in McDowell County after taking several samples from the river in hopes of learning what killed the wildlife.

"I want to know what's in the water and if it is dangerous to us,” neighbor Brandon Good said.

Neighbors are concerned about other wildlife near the river, including birds and a black bear that was seen eating the rotting fish.

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