A marsh fire in east New Orleans has blanketed the downtown area since Tuesday morning prompting Mayor Mitch Landrieu to declare the metro area in a state of emergency.
The fire, which has burned nearly 2,300 acres located in a remote area in New Orleans, does not pose an immediate threat to life or property the mayor said, but anyone with respiratory ailments are likely to be affected by the smoke due to the high levels of particulate matter.
"I would ask that you to please heed the warning and take precaution," Landrieu said in a statement.
Rodney Mallett, press secretary of Department of Environmental Quality also stated, “Now all indications are that it is at a moderate level. So you would have to be unusually sensitive with lung disease or lung issues to feel any kind of effect.”
Health officials have advised everyone in the vicinity of the disaster to avoid exertion and prolonged exposure. A resident to the area, Lisa Hills told WWLTV that she is already taking precautions.
“My babies next door have asthma. They had to stay inside and couldn't play,” she said.
The blaze, which has expanded alerts from New Orleans and six suburban parishes to 23 parishes, including towns 100 miles from New Orleans, is expected to go on for five to seven days according to officials.
The National Weather Service said in a statement today that east to southeast winds could carry the smoke as far away as the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain as well as Baton Rouge.
They also reported that the surface low is expected to develop over the western gulf late this week though uncertainties in location remain.
Efforts to control the blaze are still in progress with the arrival of more helicopters Wednesday. Landrieu said that they have added an extra nine National Guard helicopters that will be “fighting with every asset that we have.”
However, despite the added helicopters, Louisiana National Guard Brigadier General Glenn Curtis said that it is unlikely to finish the job alone.
“I don't know that we're actually going to put the fire out, but we hope to suppress it enough to dampen the smoke," he said.
He added that they will continue to fly “until the fire has died down or until told otherwise."