On Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1883, the fire which would become know as the Great Fire broke out in a store at the SE corner of Main (1st Ave.) and Ocklawaha (Silver Springs Blvd.). According to the Ocala Banner fire edition quoted in the book Ocala Fire Department 1885-1985, the bell on the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at the SE corner of Ft. King and Main, was used to give the alarm. Bucket lines were used to fight the fire with what little water there was. More than five blocks were burned down according to the Banner article, basically covering the area from what is now Silver Springs Blvd. to Ft. King between Osceola and 1st Ave., and from east 1st Ave. to west 1st Ave. between Broadway and Ft. King, with some structures south of this second swath area also burning.
This post is an article about the fire from the Jacksonville Times-Union. An Ocala telegraph office must have survived for Jacksonville to have gotten the word the same day the fire happened, but I couldn't find a telegraph office listed in the 1884 Sanborn map. I also couldn't find one on the 1886 map.
The article states that 2/3 of the businesses and 5 houses burned down. It was this fire the led to the development of the water system and fire departments we have been posting about.