Tumbleweed increase during drought heightens IE fire danger

NUEVO, Calif. (KABC) -- An increase in tumbleweeds due to the statewide drought has increased fire danger in the Inland Empire. Fire officials and homeowners are targeting tumbleweeds in a fire-prevention effort.

In rural country like Nuevo, wildfires can spread quickly. And tumbleweeds can be a big concern, especially if they break free and a big Santa Ana wind event comes through.

Firefighters are concerned because the plants do very well in a severe drought.

"What I've noticed, there's a lot more tumbleweeds," said Riverside County Firefighter Joe Lewis.

And that means Lewis is busier than ever, making sure the owners of vacant lots do something about all of the tumbleweeds before a fire starts.

"I saw a tumbleweed fire actually start a couple years ago, and it moved along really quick. It just ignited just like that," said Lewis.

And tumbleweeds have a tendency to wind up stuck in fences along the road.

"It could be somebody smoking, throwing a cigarette right out their window, and it could land in there and cause a fire. A vehicle that's not maintained properly could throw a spark, and you can get a fire from that," said Lewis.

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nuevofire safety
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