Smoke from a marsh fire near Lake Pontchartrain is fouling the air of the New Orleans metropolitan area with several people showing up at a hospital with breathing problems.
The National Weather Service issued air quality alerts Monday as smoke spread into several parishes. It advised the elderly and people with respiratory diseases to stay indoors.
A Tulane Medical Center spokeswoman says 11 people went to the downtown emergency room for problems from breathing smoke
New Orleans Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Pajeaud says lightning likely started the fire Thursday. He says one square mile that is contained by canals was burning intensely near Irish Bayou in eastern New Orleans. The fire was not expected to spread.
Pajeaud says rain forecast this week might extinguish the blaze.