Video and photos: Tumbleweeds meet fire whirl in Rocky Mountain Arsenal

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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:

Meanwhile, the tumbleweed invasion continues in Colorado. Read on for some of our favorite Instagram photos.

Follow Adam Roy on Twitter: @adnroy

From our archives: Flooding in Colorado

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