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Wildfire Smoke Blankets Reno; Air Quality Alert

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Smoke from a series of large wildfires burning in northern California and northern Nevada has created some of the worst air pollution levels ever recorded in the Reno-Sparks area.

The Washoe County Health District said Monday the air quality is now considered unhealthy for all populations.

Alerts have been issued for more than a week since a big fire broke out nearly 150 miles (241 kilometers) away near Yosemite National Park near the California-Nevada line. But those warnings applied to sensitive groups — children, the elderly and people with respiratory issues.

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The Air Quality Index for ozone reached an unofficial rating of 172 in Reno late Monday afternoon.

That's worse than the previous record of 164 in 1984, although Health District spokesman Phil Ulibarri says the official AQI is based on a 24-hour average so Monday's number could change. Air quality data in Reno goes back to 1963.

Ulibarri says it's definitely the worst air quality in a decade, and everyone should avoid prolonged activity outdoors.

Sensitive groups remain under alert in Carson City, Fallon and Gardnerville.