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WWLTV.com

NEWORLEANS-- Mayor Mitch Landrieu has declared a state of emergency as a marsh fire continues to blaze in eastern New Orleans, sending blankets of smoke over the metro area.

The city will deploy Air National Guard helicopters to dump water on the fire. As of Tuesday evening, three helicopters were flying back and forth, filling up large buckets -- each with the capacity of a pick-up truck -- with water to combat the fire. Nine helicopters are expected to be sent out by Wednesday.

Landrieu said the marsh fire is surrounded by water and on private land, and that it doesn't pose a threat to any private property or human life.

However, the mayor stressed that residents with health problems should avoid exposure to the smoke and stay indoors.

Landrieu said he came to the decision after completing a flyover of the fire Thursday morning. Landrieu has made a trip to Baton Rouge to meet with state officials to ask for assets and begin coordinating.

Landrieu, who said the fire is now over twice the size of City Park's 1,300 acres, also on the trip noticed some new areas of concern. One is about 500 yards from Chef Menteur Highway.

City Council President Jackie Clarkson said Algiers was inundated with smoke.

'I couldn't see my neighbor across the street this morning,' she said.

'It's more widespread than I think any of us realized,'Clarkson said. 'It's been more intense than any of us realized.'

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