Fire burning in Ocala National Forest threatens 200 homes

Published On: Apr 09 2013 08:17:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2013 10:47:50 AM EDT
OCALA, Fla. -

A brush fire sparked by an illegal campfire in the Ocala National Forest  continues to threaten hundreds of homes, prompting evacuations, officials said.

The fire broke out Sunday night near the Half Moon Prairie just south of State Road 40 but has continued to spread, fire officials said on Tuesday. 

Firefighters continue to protect homes in the Lake in the Forest subdivision.  It's not known when residents will be allowed to return.

Marion County fire officials estimated that the blaze has scorched 165 acres.

Smoke from the fire caused major visibility issues along S.R. 40 Tuesday morning, forcing deputies to place barricades on the road to alert drivers. 

Barricades were placed on Levy Hammock Road and conditions were also monitored on East Highway 40 from Forest Corners (314A) to east of Levy Hammock Road

Also Tuesday morning, a school bus filled with students stopped in the middle of Levy Hammock Road because of poor visibility, and deputies had to escort the bus from the area. 

A burn ban remains in effect.

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