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Associated Press, Published September 14 2011

DNR: Minnesota fire causing air problems in Wis.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says a Minnesota forest fire is causing southeastern Wisconsin air to be unhealthy for everyone.

Officials raised the air quality index to red on Wednesday for Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties until 11 p.m. because of persistent elevated levels of fine particles in the air.

DNR spokesman Bill Cosh says the red index is rare.

Federal guidelines require the air quality to be at a certain level for 24 hours before the official level is changed. Cosh says the weather conditions are improving.

An air quality index of orange was also changed for Dodge County, meaning the quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

A lightning strike ignited the northeastern Minnesota blaze Aug. 18 and its smoke has drifted to the Milwaukee and Chicago areas.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.