State and local authorities want to remind Baton Rouge area residents that the majority of the smoke being reported here Tuesday is from the marsh fire near New Orleans.
All fire departments in Baton Rouge are receiving numerous calls from residents concerned about the large amount of smoke, said Capt. Derek Glover of the Central Fire Department.
“There is nothing that can be done here until the wind changes directions or we get some rain,” Glover said Tuesday night.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. Donald Stone said Tuesday night that while there are a few house fires and building fires in the metro area, most of the smoke is from the marsh fire near New Orleans.
Earlier Tuesday, Chris Piehler, of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, said the department staff checked with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry to see if any other fires closer to Baton Rouge had been observed during flights of the area, but forestry officials had not seen anything.
That flight information, combined with air monitoring data that seems to show particulate matter — a product of fires — above normal levels that lead from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, seems to indicate that the smoke in Baton Rouge is from that area, said Piehler, an administrator with DEQ’s Inspection Division said.
Particulate matter is a product of fire, consists of very small particles in the air and can cause health problems. Two air monitors in the Baton Rouge area are picking up higher particulate matter than normal, according to a DEQ press release.
The fire is continuing to burn and there could be additional impacts. If particulate levels in Baton Rouge reach a certain level, air quality alerts will be issued. So far, those levels have not been reached, according to a DEQ press release.
Current air quality in the Baton Rouge area is at a level where unusually sensitive people should avoid being outside for long periods of time.
For information about air quality and for air quality forecasts, go to http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/tabid/2505/Default.aspx.
To sign up for air quality alerts, go to http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/enviroflash.