Fire prompts evacuations in Marion County

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Authorities in Marion County say a fire that began in the Florida Highlands area in Dunnellon threatened the Marion Oaks subdivision prompted evacuations of some homes and businesses. 

Some 60 people were asked to leave as firefighters worked to contain the fire near SW 155th Street and SW 75th Avenue.  The Marion County Sheriff's Office had warned that everything southwest of that intersection was in the path of the fire.

Approximately 60 acres had burned with one structure receiving minor damage just before 5 p.m.

For three hours, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marion County Fire Rescue and U.S. Forestry Service battles the flames.  The fire was roughly 90 percent contained around 8 p.m.

According to U.S. Forestry officials, the fire started after someone was burning tires illegally in the woods.

"It puts a lot of people in danger," said Kyle Tinkham, who lives nearby.  "I mean, people could lose their houses."

"Stop burning stuff!" said resident Matt Rabun.  "My house is right there! My whole life's down there, you know!"

Some hotspots continue to burn and there is heavy smoke in the area, which has impacted visibility.  Florida Forestry officials said two cars crashed on a road in the area, sending both drivers to the hospital.

Firefighters will monitor the fire overnight, because even though the fire is 90 percent contained, smoke and those burning hotspots mean that it is not totally controlled.