NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Many people across the New Orleans area are dealing with the smoke and smell from the forested wetlands fire burning underground in New Orleans East.

Will Snowden, who lives in a neighborhood along Haynes Boulevard, typically starts his morning with a run along the levee, but his routine has been halted because of the fires that are located next to Bayou Sauvage.

“With the smoke in the air, it’s just something I’m not able to do,” Snowden said. “When we think about the beauty of New Orleans East and the wonderful space we have out here, not being able to enjoy it because of the smoke in the air has been just really annoying.”

New Orleans officials say the fire is on private property and it falls outside of the city’s fire hydrant system. However, water in a nearby drainage canal is being used to flood the area.

“When you talk about wildfires and forest fires, it’s something like 200 acres,” New Orleans City Councilman explained. “The fire department and the property owner only have the financial and resource ability to deal with this”

Thomas is now calling on Mayor LaToya Cantrell to request assistance from the state.

“Hopefully to declare this an emergency now,” Thomas said. “It’s not just an issue about the fire. It’s a potential issue about health for people with respiratory problems and lung problems.”

Snowden says anything will help but believes the best solution is out of the city’s hands.

“I think it’s appropriate to draw attention to the issues that we’re facing in New Orleans East, and any support that we can get,” Snowden said. “The ultimate support we need is from Mother Nature. We need some rain to really soak the ground, raise the water level table to really put out that smoldering fire.”

The city is distributing N95 masks at several locations, including the East New Orleans Regional Library and the Joe Brown Recreational Center.

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