A strong smell of smoke permeated across Central Florida Thursday due to a large brush fire burning in Marion County.
The hot and dry weather isn't helping, either.
“Dry weather and high heat turn vegetation to kindling,” Severe Weather Center 9 meteorologist Kassandra Crimi said.
Firefighters said the fire forced 200 residents to evacuate their homes Wednesday afternoon, but were allowed to return overnight.
MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Watch: 5-Day Forecast | Watch Live: Doppler 9 HD
The Florida Forest Service said the fire started around 2 p.m., and has grown to about 505 acres near the Ocklawaha Basin in the Ocala National Forest.
No structures were damaged, firefighters said.
Firefighters said there were five helicopters making bucket drops around with an aircraft dropping water on the flames.
Fire Rescue and Sheriff's Office officials are urging residents to register for “Alert Marion,” a free emergency notification system.
As of Thursday morning, firefighters said the fire is still burning, but plow lines have been cut around it.
Temperatures will be in the mid-90s Thursday, but still no rain until possibly the weekend. There is a 20% chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday, Severe Weather Center 9 meteorologist Kassandra Crimi said.
"Fire concerns will be elevated for the next few days or even weeks, as dry and hot air continues to hover over Central Florida. We could see some relief in the form of rain this weekend, but we’ll have to keep an eye on the possibility of lightning," Crimi said.
Watch video of the fire here:
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