As It Happens

'Sea of tumbleweeds' buries California town, trapping residents in their homes

A city in California has been buried in tumbleweeds. One resident says some of his neighbours had to call 911 after the wall of weeds trapped them inside their homes.

Bryan Bagwell says his neighbourhood in Victorville is 'like a war zone'

Hundreds of tumbleweeds are burying homes in Victorville, Calif. (David Pardo/The Daily Press/Associated Press)

Take cover, the tumbleweeds are coming.

Bryan Bagwell knows. He lives in Victorville, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles. And as a resident of the High Desert community, its not uncommon for Bagwell to see tumbleweeds rolling on by. It's just part of living out west.

But earlier this week, the prickly weeds went from going by to stopping by — and now, some are calling the huge influx of tumbleweeds in his neighbourhood an "invasion." 

As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner spoke to Bagwell about his besieged neighbourhood. Here is part of their conversation.

What were you doing when this so-called tumbleweed invasion began?

Monday morning I woke up. I was in my office, in my downstairs bedroom. I could hear the wind blowing pretty strong, beating up against the house.

I decided to take a look outside and see what was going on. I was inundated with tumbleweeds. It was probably about three or four feet high at that time and probably 25 feet deep by 10 feet wide.

What? So you are talking about a wall of tumbleweed?

More like a sea of tumbleweeds.

And I understand you had to drive through this to go and pick your son up from school. What was that like?

School is a mile away and I had to go get him. Coming back and going there I was driving and I caught some tumbleweeds doing 25, 30 miles [40, 48 kilometres] an hour as I was driving there.

Then, when I was coming back, imagine having a group of people lined up on the side of the road and throwing dodge balls at you as you're driving. You have to swerve out of the way of the larger ones and run the little ones over.

It was like a war zone.

These are just some of the hundreds of tumbleweeds collected around Bryan Bagwell's home. (Submitted by Bryan Bagwell)

Why do you have to dodge them?

Imagine a big ball, maybe three or four feet tall, coming at you. They've got a bunch of branches coming out of it and these little branches have thorns on it, kind of like a rose bush. They just get into everything and stick to everything and scratch you up.

When you are driving down the street some of the houses were completely covered in tumbleweeds. You couldn't see anything but the roof.

Some of the people had to call the city, call 911, because they were inundated with tumbleweeds so bad that they could not get out of their front door or side door. 

They had to call 911?

A couple of them did call 911. I thought that was a little excessive. But some of them freaked out when they opened their door and there was a wall of tumbleweeds.

The tumbleweeds were stacked floor to ceiling. It's not just like there is just one layer of tumbleweeds. It's multiple layers of tumbleweeds. It's like a mountain of tumbleweeds. I mean, you're buried underneath it.

How's it looking at your house now?

My yard was clean. It was clean an hour ago. I don't know what it's going to be like in the next two hours because of the wind picking back up.

But I know my neighbours' yards, on both sides, they are still dealing with trying to get the tumbleweeds out of their yard. 

Have you ever been hurt by a tumbleweed?

When the tumbleweeds blow by, and you are trying to get rid of them, pick them up, they are very prickly and they scratch you. You end up with scrapes, puncture wounds.

I don't know what's in the tips of them but there's something that just makes you itch like crazy.

How do you feel about living in Victorville with these tumbleweeds?

I'm pretty fed up. I'm getting tired of it.

I'm going to be looking for other options here pretty soon. If they don't do something. I'll move.

They can drag the fills. They can spray herbicides to kill the weeds. They can mow the field down. The fire department can come out here and light it on fire to practice putting out forest fires.

I don't know — something's got to be done.

Written by John McGill. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. This Q&A was edited for length and clarity.


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