Michael Luke / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Smoke from the massive New Orleans East marsh fire is still casting a haze over parts of the city as thousands of acres wetlands continue to burn on the outskirts of the city.
The fire has been burning since this weekend and has been a nuisance and a health hazard to some throughout the metro area.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that the fire is now over twice the size of City Park's 1,300 acres. Landrieu made the comment after finishing a morning flyover of the fire Tuesday.
Landrieu said that he will meet with state officials to discuss options for fighting the fire, but an "aerial assault" may not help.
"The experts are saying that even if you try to put water on top of it the smoke is going to continue," said Landrieu.
"First of all, right now there is no risk to life or property which is always the first order of business. Secondly, it's very hard to get to with any equipment. Normally, when you fight fires, either out west or in north Louisiana, one of the ways they do that is they pull bulldozers on to the land. You can't do that because the marshland is soft."
As the fire continues to burn, patience is growing short with residents, and it is also taking a political angle.
While Landrieu said there was little that can be done to extiguish the marsh fire because of the location, former Mayor C. Ray Nagin chimed in that local leaders weren't doing all that can be done to put out the fire.
"Air quality disaster in N.O. First casualty was truth. BS, nothing can be done. During K we used helicopters. Fire boats?. Come on leaders," Nagin said via Twitter.
Most officials believe the marsh fire will need to burn itself out or a rain to put out the fire, though no rain is forecasted for the rest of the week.
The Louisiana Department of Equality sent out a precaution about the air quality Tuesday, saying that the smoke could pose a health hazard, especially to children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma. The particulate matter in the air ranged from normal to unhealthy at several of the monitoring stations.
After finishing the flyover, Landrieu left for Baton Rouge to discuss options with governor's office. He is planning afternoon newser to announce plans.
State Senator Karen Carter Peterson questioned whether enough resources were being used at the state level, saying that emergency funds should be used to buy "marsh buggies" immediately so that firefighters could reach the blaze.
In the meantime, smoke is a major problem for pilots landing at Lakefront Airport.
"With the lake and the smoke, those optical illusions create problems for pilots. It's an instrument approach," said Lake Charles pilot Rock Palermo.
Palermo said some planes have been diverted to other airports.
"The smoke, having smoke in the cockpit is not a nice thing for pilots, even though you know it's coming from a marsh fire," he said.
Until Tuesday, the first plan of attack was to let the fire burn itself out and hope for heavy rains.
Perhaps now, with the smoke spreading and and a new sense of urgency, officials will be taking a second look at their options.