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Fires spread in parched west as rains feed Florida floods

Firefighters on Sunday were fighting wildfires in parched forests in Colorado and New Mexico that have forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Meanwhile, floodwaters from torrential rains damaged homes and closed roads throughout the Florida Panhandle.

The Colorado fire, burning in a mountainous area about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, grew to 22 square miles within about a day of being reported and has destroyed or damaged 18 structures. A fire near the mountain community of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico began Friday and was listed at 40 square miles Sunday due to better mapping. It has destroyed at least 20 structures.

Firefighters were also battling a 1,200-acre fire in Wyoming's Guernsey State Park that forced the evacuation of campers and visitors.

In Colorado, authorities sent 1,600 evacuation notices to phone numbers, but it wasn't immediately clear how many residents had to leave. About 500 people had checked in at Red Cross shelters.

In Florida, more than 600 inmates at the Escambia County Jail were without power and air conditioning Sunday after the rains left more than five feet of water in the bottom floor, which also houses the laundry and kitchen facilities. Extra deputies were brought in to beef up security, and generators powered lights outside the facility to shine into the jail.

More than 100 residents spent the night in three Red Cross shelters in Escambia County on Saturday night. Navy officials also set up housing for residents of a 22-home subdivision evacuated because of flooding, according to Red Cross officials.

It's difficult to assess the damage because many roads in Escambia County are still flooded.

Much of the water had receded in nearby Santa Rosa County, but the area was under a flood warning. One fire department was offering 25 sandbags per person as the area braced for the possibility of another 4 to 8 inches of rain.

About 40 homes had some level of flooding around the city of Gulf Breeze, where heavy rains left about four feet of water. Fire rescue officials were still assessing the extent of the damage Sunday. One person was rescued from a car stranded in the high waters. Three swimmers were taken to the hospital Saturday night after getting caught in rough waters, Santa Rosa County spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka said.