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Reasons behind deaths of thousands of fish remain elusive

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Thousands of fish were found dead in Columbia's Flat Branch Creek.

Conservation officials are still trying to determine what killed an estimated 14,000 fish in a central Missouri creek.

Speculation had focused on runoff from an April 1st fire that destroyed an auto parts store in a Columbia strip mall. But The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Wednesday that the Fire Department tested the water and found it negative for petroleum pollution.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says the die-off occurred in Flat Branch creek near its confluence with Hinkson Creek in Columbia. The agency says the cause won't be pinpointed until the Department of Natural Resources tests the stream.

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