- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Heavy smoke from a California wildfire more than 50 miles away has triggered a warning in Washoe County about the extremely poor air quality and prompted schools to cancel most athletic games and other outdoor events in the Reno area.

The Washoe County Health District said the air quality index reached the “very unhealthy” range at 4 p.m. Thursday. That’s one step away from “hazardous.”

Health officials say the “very unhealthy” air quality index reading of 221 means the general population may experience significant health effects. Its Reno’s worst reading since 2008 when a string of Sierra fires pushed it to 211.

Officials earlier urged sensitive groups such as the elderly and people with respiratory conditions to remain indoors when the index climbed into the “unhealthy” range between 151 and 200.

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