New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says he ordered the flights after a small fire developed near the main marsh fire. And he says it may have been set by someone, because there was no lightning - which started the main fire - and it was in a more accessible area. He says fire officials initially planned to let the fire burn itself off.
"We made the best decisions that we could, based on the information that we had, and based upon what we thought the best practices were. And I think we hit it about right."
Smoke that blanketed New Orleans on Tuesday changed direction yesterday, heading over Lake Pontchartrain to the Northshore and drifting as far as Baton Rouge. City health commissioner Karen DeSalvo says nearly 200 people went to city emergency rooms for breathing problems at the peak.
"It seems to be declining significantly as the air quality has improved, and we're going to continue to monitor that. All the hospitals are telling us that they can handle the volume just fine."
But, Landrieu says the fire is stubborn.
"It's going to be very difficult to completely put the fire out. The rain, we think, is going to be of significant impact, and we expect that we're going to have some smoke for some time. How long that lasts, you know, the weather conditions will dictate that to us."
The National Guard flights are set to continue this morning.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming