Paul Murphy /Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Thick smoke hung over the skyline of New Orleans on Monday.

About 10 miles east of downtown, a massive marsh fire is burning just west of Bayou Sauvage. Firefighters say a lightning bolt may have started the fire late last week.

Robert Ruffin lives in the smoke-filled Oak Island subdivision in New Orleans East.

'This morning it was so heavy that I could barely get to my car,' he said. 'I thought my roof was on fire. It has so much smoke.'

Ruffin and his neighbors want to know why firefighters can't put out the blaze.

'Helicopters and water bags should do it, man. Boy, you can put fire out with water, so what's the problems? They have helicopters and they have water bags.'

New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Charles Parent said firefighters can't put enough water on the blaze to extinguish the flames.

'It's a deep-seated fire,' he said. 'We believe that's it's gone underground because of years and years of dead vegetation. It builds up in New Orleans East. So, it actually burns underneath.'

Neighbor John Adams said the smoke is aggravating his asthma.

'This is the machine that I have to use. All these different medications and it's even worst now, even worst,' Adams said.

Adams said letting the fire burn itself out should not be an option.

'We pay our taxes and we demand from the mayor and whoever it is, we demand some justice out here in taking care of this fire,' he said.

According to firefighters the extended drought in the New Orleans area is now helping to fuel that giant marsh fire. The plants are dying because the lack of rain, and the grass is nothing but tinder.

The fire chief is now hoping for rain.

'That will greatly assist us in extinguishing this fire,' he said.

As of 5 p.m., firefighters say, the fire is still about 2000 yards from any populated area. At this time they do not believe it to be any immediate threat to any of the neighborhoods near Bayou Savage.

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