A thick grey haze blanketed the New Orleans area on Monday, limiting visibility and creating a possible health hazard for people with lung issues or other health problems.
The smoke is from a fire buring in marsh in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in New Orleans East. At a news conference Monday morning, the New Orleans Fire Department said it was monitoring the fire, which may be the result of lightning, and would allow it to burn out on its own because the area was inaccessible to NOFD equipment.
The fire is about a mile across, growing in compressed vegetation underground. NOFD Chief Charles Parent said dousing it with water would not put the fire out.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued an air particle pollution action day for Monday that should last until 7 p.m. City Park monitors showed air particle pollution levels at least six times higher than on a normal day.
The action day means that air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.People with comprimised immune systems or a history of lung or heart problems, children, those with asthma and the elderly should stay indoors until the haze has lifted. Everyone is advised to refrain from strenuous activities and exercise outdoors.
Airnow.gov and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals suggest running a home air conditioner, keeping the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean. During decreased air quality days, people should not smoke inside or use the vacuum cleaner, which stirs up dust.