"We will continue to lean forward," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "I am pleased the Louisiana National Guard and the New Orleans Fire Department were able to move quickly to address these hot spots."
During a reconnaissance flight today at noon, the New Orleans Fire Department identified three hot spots in the marsh fire in New Orleans East. As a result, the Mayor requested aerial support from the state, and the Louisiana National Guard quickly dispatched two UH-60 helicopters with 500-gallon Bambi buckets to fight the fire.
The city will continue to coordinate with the Department of Environmental Quality to monitor air quality.
It is believed that the marsh fire started after a lightning storm on the evening of Wednesday, August 24. According to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) and New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD), the primary fire has always been 100% contained because the 1,552 acre area is surrounded by water on all four sides. It has not posed a threat to life or property. It is inaccessible to NOFD equipment.
During a flyover on August 30, the Mayor and NOFD officials identified a secondary fire burning nearby. Because of the size and location of the secondary fire, the experts believed helicopters with Bambi buckets would be effective in fighting the blaze.
The Mayor declared a state of emergency, which allowed the City and State to deploy all necessary assets relating to a marsh fire burning in New Orleans East.
The National Guard deployed nine helicopters to the area. Over the course of their mission, they dropped more than 1 million gallons of water on the marsh fire. The secondary fire was completely extinguished as a result of these actions.
The National Guard’s mission was suspended due to weather conditions as Tropical Storm Lee began to impact the region.
As soon as weather cleared from Tropical Storm Lee, on Monday, September 5, a ground reconnaissance team from the NOFD surveyed the area and on Tuesday September 6, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and Mayor Landrieu conducted aerial reconnaissance flights.
The reconnaissance teams found areas of light haze and pockets that were still smoldering from the fire. Soil samples and excavations taken by the NOFD in and around the area burned found that the water table had risen to approximately twelve inches below the ground’s surface. According to the National Weather Service, the closest official rainfall reading at Lakefront Airport shows that Tropical Storm Lee dumped 10.24” on the area.
The NOFD has conducted ground surveys of the area three times a day with the Mosquito Control Board supporting those efforts with flyovers.