SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Officials say a quarter-million hatchery salmon survived the near-collapse of the Oroville Dam spillway this winter, only to suffocate now after a pump failed.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said Thursday that they were among about 5 million baby fall-run Chinook salmon that were rescued after tons of mud washed down the Feather River in February.

Oroville Spillway

Lake Oroville, the emergency spillway and the damaged main spillway by the dam seen from the air on Feb. 13, 2017 in Oroville. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

The erosion came from the failing emergency spillway near the Oroville Dam that caused the precautionary evacuation of nearly 200,000 Northern California residents.

The salmon were trucked from the Oroville hatchery to a nearby hatchery annex fed by well water. They died Wednesday when a faulty pump left the fish without enough oxygen.

The fall-run salmon are not an endangered species. About 30 million are released each year in California.

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  1. So, the fish are left alone for long periods of time and there was no backup system in case the pump failed? Tell me someone is losing his or her job over this. How much did it cost to raise those fish to this point?