Neb. wildfires burn more than 285 square miles

JOSH FUNK
Associated Press
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Nebraska Gov. Heineman, left, talks with Scott Josiah, state forester and director of Nebraska Forest Service, as they inspect fire damage at Chadron State Park, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, near Chadron, Neb. Officials estimated Sunday that the fires have now burned roughly 273 square miles, including at least 27,000 acres in South Dakota. That's up from roughly 93 square miles on Saturday and more than twice the size of Omaha. (AP Photo/Omaha World-Herald, Jeff Beiermann, Pool)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Strong winds helped wildfires grow Sunday, burning more than 285 square miles in northwest Nebraska and southwest South Dakota.

Fire officials estimate the largest fire, which began north of Rushville, has burned 150 miles alone. Two other fires nearby burned more than 135 square miles of rugged ranch land.

Rushville Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Kearns says firefighters are working hard to contain the fires and protect property.

But Kearns says firefighters have to make difficult decisions about what can be saved. He says it's hard to watch a rancher's hay burn because of this summer's ongoing drought.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman says it will likely take several more days to fully contain the fires, but he says firefighters appear to have all the resources they need to do that.