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Back burn in Marion County may cause visibility issues on nearby roads

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A controlled burn of about 60 acres at Halfmoon Lake prairie in Marion County may cause visibility issues on nearby State Road 40 and 183rd Avenue Road/Levy Hammock Road.

The back burn is an effort to reduce the amount of dry vegetation in the area that may serve as a fuel source for spot fires stemming from a 150-acre fire that broke out in the prairie Sunday night.

The burn was planned to take place through 5 p.m. Monday. Smoldering may continue throughout the week, according to Jessica Greene, public information officer for Marion County Fire Rescue.

Thirteen Marion County Fire Rescue units responded to the previous fire, which was reported to the Public Safety Communications Center at 6:53 p.m. by someone who lives near the prairie.

“Last week the U.S. Division of Forestry enacted a fire restriction order specifically for the federal land in the Ocala National Forest,” said Greene. “What that order does is it prohibits camp and cooking fires on federal land outside of recreational areas.”

Although there is no consequence for backyard burning of debris and trash, Greene said fire officials are highly encouraging people to not conduct backyard burning and to exercise caution with outdoor activities that could lead to wildfires.

If residents do choose to burn, all Marion County Fire Rescue regulations must be followed. The county’s guidelines are here.

Greene said motorists should check with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol about the status of State Road 40 and 183rd Avenue Road/Levy Hammock Road before traveling. If the visibility conditions are bad enough, she said, the roads could be closed.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office’s 24-hour non-emergency telephone number is 352- 732-9111. Florida Highway Patrol’s traffic and road closures for the Marion County area can be found here.

Michelle Plitnikas wrote this story online. 

About Christina DeVarona

Christina is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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