10 homes lost in Marion County fire

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OCALA, Fla. - Strong winds and very dry conditions helped fuel several brush fires that broke out in Central Florida over the weekend, leaving thousands of acres scorched and nearly a dozen homes destroyed.

Firefighters on Monday continue to battle a nearly 2,000-acre brush fire that destroyed 10 homes in Marion County and forced officials to close a roadway.

The fire started Saturday afternoon in the Ocala National Forest and quickly grew to 1,900 acres, fire officials said. The blaze was 80 percent contained as of Monday morning.

State Road 19 was closed near State Road 40 for hours because of the fast-moving fire that burned through more than 20 buildings. Officials reopened the roadway around 8 a.m. Monday.

No injuries were reported, but fire officials said 24 buildings, including the 10 houses, were destroyed by the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, a brush fire scorched more than 1,100 acres in Volusia County, forcing the evacuation of dozens of homes.

The blaze, dubbed the Durrance Fire by officials, initially broke out on Friday in Ormond Beach. As of Monday morning, the fire was 85 percent contained, officials said.

Fire officials said flames came dangerously close to homes on Arabian, Lipizzan, Warden, Baha and Durrance trails, but none was burned.

The evacuation notice was lifted Sunday evening.

Fire crews from Volusia and Flagler counties, the Florida Forest Service, and every city fire department in Volusia County helped battle the blaze.

The cause of the Volusia fire also remains under investigation.

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