NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A raging, smoky swamp fire that contributed to fatal car crashes on fogbound highways and at times polluted New Orleans’ air with a heavy stench has been fully extinguished after burning for more than a month, the New Orleans Fire Department said.
The department posted an online notice Monday declaring the fire, first reported on the city’s eastern edge in mid-October, out. Officials were close to declaring the fire late last week. Firefighting efforts were halted before heavy rains over the weekend led to estimates that the fire was completely extinguished, the department said.
Smoke and fog were blamed for a crash on Interstate 10 that killed one person on Nov. 7 in the New Orleans area. And what the National Weather Service calls a “super fog” phenomenon — thick fog mixed with smoke from smoldering organic material in the marsh — has been blamed for a series of horrific, sometimes fiery crashes on Interstate 55 near New Orleans on October 23. Seven people died as a result.
Last October, Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain explained that although wetlands are considered wetlands, they can dry out, especially if the state is suffering from a drought. When dry grass catches fire, “it burns not only the grass on top, it burns through the crust and the peat layer underneath,” Strain said.
State and local authorities are fighting the fire. However, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported last week that city officials said the swamp fires convinced them that the city department, which usually deals with structure fires in urban areas, requires more training and equipment to prevent wildfires.
Photo: In this aerial photo, responders are seen near the wreckage after a multi-vehicle pileup on I-55 in Manchac, La., Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. A “superfog” of smoke from the south Louisiana marsh fires and thick morning fog caused several traffic collisions involving multiple vehicles. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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