Video and photos: Tumbleweeds meet fire whirl in Rocky Mountain Arsenal
The tumbleweed invasion is nigh. Over the past few weeks, gaggles of the rolling desert shrubs have taken over portions of central Colorado, clogging streets and driveways, and trapping a few residents in their homes. Some communities around Colorado Springs have even resorted to clearing away the plants with snowplows.
But for a few firefighters this month, tumbleweeds briefly became a real danger.
On March 13, personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and three local fire departments were conducting a prescribed burn at Rocky Mountain Arsenal when a fire whirl swept up thousands of loose tumbleweeds.
Primed with several dumpsters' worth of the dried plants, the whirl -- a miniature flaming tornado formed when a dust devil draws in burning debris and gas from a wildfire -- broke the crews' lines, scorching an extra acre of grassland.
Luckily for those of us who don't plan on going anywhere near a flaming hell-vortex anytime soon, Thomas Rogers, a firefighter with South Metro Fire Rescue Authority, caught the incident on camera. We've posted the video below:
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