32 die in US fires and floods: Extreme American summer weather brings ruinous downpours to south-east and fierce blazes in west

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WASHINGTON - The death toll from the floods which have ravaged Georgia and other south-eastern states rose to 20 yesterday, and deadly fires still raged out of control in western Colorado as some of the most extreme summer weather in years continued across much of the United States, writes Rupert Cornwell.

In Georgia itself the torrential downpours which dumped a record 21in of rain on one county south of Atlanta in a 24-hour period this week were abating yesterday. But many rivers, some of them 20 feet above flood level, had still not crested while more heavy rains were forecast for neighbouring Alabama. Georgia's problems are minor compared with the devastation wrought by the Great Flood of 1993 in the Midwest. But with 400,000 acres of crops under water and thousands of homeless, the damage has been severe enough for President Bill Clinton to declare four counties a federal disaster area.

Near Glenwood Springs in Colorado, 100 miles west of Denver, a blaze which on Wednesday killed at least a dozen crack federal firefighters in a freak firestorm, was still not fully under control yesterday. Forest and brush fires have raged in eight western states.

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