Officials: Large brush fire in Marion Co. may be arson

- Officials say a massive fire in Marion County that has burned more than 700 acres may have been intentionally set.

The woods in Ft. McCoy were smoldering Saturday and you could see smoke in the sky from miles away.
 
“It's just been building and building and building, scary,” said Paula Hill, who lives near the fire danger zone. “We’re not far at all… maybe a mile at the most from the different areas where it’s spreading.”

Officials say they were first called to the brush fire Friday afternoon and how it started seems suspicious.
 
“That’s what it appears to be, an intentionally set fire,” said Ludie Bond, a wildfire mitigation specialist with the Florida Forest Service.

The brush fire has now burned more than 700 acres.

At one point, firefighters say it put 50 homes in danger.

We’re told it’s one of the biggest brush fires in this area in years.
 
“In the hottest part of the day, the driest part of the day, we had some flare ups,” Bond said.

She says helicopters have been dropping water on hot spots.
 
The Florida Forest Service says with the wind dying down, crews have been able to get the fire 85 percent contained.

But after the smoke clears, the question of who may have started it lingers.

“Why would somebody even comprehend doing that? That’s so sick and terrible with all these people worried about losing their homes. It’s just crazy,” Hill said.
 
Fire crews say they will be on the scene of the fire at least through Sunday.

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