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King Fire Smoke Makes Washoe County Air Quality Its Worst In Six Years

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

Smoke from the King Fire has filled the sky in Washoe County. This photo was taken Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18, 2014.

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

Wildfire smoke from the King Fire has given Reno its worst air in six years. The fire, more than 50 miles away, had brought a health advisory earlier this week from the Washoe County Health District.

Thursday it triggered a warning 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. It's 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.

El Dorado County's Air Quality Management District issued a health advisory for wildfire smoke as have several California county's north and northwest of the fire.

0918-king-fire-NASA-sat-image

A NASA satellite photo showing smoke from the King Fire, which is filling the sky to the northeast of the burn area. This photo was shot at 11 a.m. Thursday.  NASA PHOTO