New Orleans East swamp fire shows signs of dying down after long-awaited rain

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 8:35 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The large New Orleans East swamp fire that has smoldered for weeks and helped create dangerous morning super fog showed signs of dying down Tuesday (Nov. 14) after long-awaited rain and continued inundation from water pumps flooding the marsh.

“It has come at a tremendous loss of life, with some people losing their lives out on I-55 and on I-10, and people getting injured,” former state representative and First City Court clerk Austin Badon said.

Gregory Cavanaugh of Meyers Warehouse said his boss Kevin Meyers lost his life in the Nov. 7 crash on I-10 near Michoud Boulevard during a super fog event.

“Last week, one of our supervisors got killed in the fog and smoke. It was pretty bad,” Cavanaugh said. “We all like family. We work around the clock, so it’s a hard one for everybody. You know, definitely a left hook.

“He was a good worker. He had a good heart, you know? The family is definitely feeling it, you know, for a family business.”

The lingering, smoldering fire has caused all kinds of problems for people.

“The smell was pretty horrific. But what I’ve seen is a very high, intense smoke and especially during the fog time. Hardly see, can barely breathe sometimes, and at moments, eyes water,” Anthony Torquati said.

Fire crews are moving five pumps from the east side of the burning property to the northwest corner, over a natural gas pipeline where there’s still some hot spots.

They’re pumping an equivalent of one inch per eight hours across 200 acres, or about three inches per day.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said 90 percent of the property is now under water, but roughly 20 acres still need to be submerged.

“We’re going to need probably an additional 10-12 inches of water, at a minimum, to submerge this part of the property, cause it’s higher than the other,” Strain said.

In most areas, the water can begin to pool and travel through crew-dug ravines.

The rain has significantly suppressed the smoke, as the misty cooler conditions slow evaporation.

Firefighters said the rain has brought out rattlesnakes, feral hogs and raccoons. They said while the rain has dampened everything above ground, it has also severely limited access to the area and hindered the use of heavy equipment by muddying the roads.

“The training opportunity has been great, and going forward in the future, the state and fire departments know how to address these issues when they flare up in the future,” Badon said.

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