Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Orleans shrouded in marsh fire cloud as emergency is declared - 31st Aug 2011

This incredible image that looks straight out of Star Wars shows how smoke from a raging marsh fire in New Orleans has surrounded the iconic Superdome, as an emergency is declared in the city.

Helicopters are dropping water from 500-gallon baskets, hundreds of acres of land have been burned and now a second marsh fire has started in what is turning into a city-wide disaster.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spotted a second marsh fire during a flight over one that has hazed the metro area with smoke for three days and he has now declared an emergency.

Four helicopters based in Hammond were dropping water from the huge baskets onto the fire and five based in Pineville would join them on Wednesday, a Louisiana National Guard spokesman said.

Haze from the fire was reported as far west as the Baton Rouge metro area. The National Weather Service expanded its smoke alert from New Orleans and six suburban parishes to 23 parishes.

As of Tuesday morning, the original fire had burned all but about 537 acres - about eight-tenths of a square mile - of the trees, shrubs and grass on a 1,553-acre area surrounded by canals.

It started in the centre of the area and has been spreading outward, with the smoke alert now covering towns 100 miles from New Orleans. Read More