LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) _ Tumbleweeds and wind are as much a part of Kansas as Dorothy and her little dog Toto. But at least Dorothy was welcome to come home.

''We have periodically had to fight tumbleweeds, but it's never been this bad,'' says City Manager Alan Morris.

He said Monday that some houses in this southwest Kansas town of 15,000 residents have been buried by tumbleweeds. About 50 city workers and other volunteers pitched in over the weekend to gather up and burn piles of marauding tumbleweeds.

''It was like the ground was moving with giant roly-poly worms,'' Morris said.

In Colby, 160 miles to the north, Fire Chief Ivan Lee says residents have been battling tumbleweeds - which are actually Russian thistles - for about 45 days. In some cases, the dry weeds, which pose a fire hazard, have piled up to the eaves of houses.

''There's just no way to get rid of them,'' Lee said. ''You pack them into packers and take them to the landfill, and they just blow all over somebody else's property.''

Lee said there isn't much use trying to stop the blowing weeds.

''The wind always blows in western Kansas, there's no way to stop that,'' he said.

''There's no way you're going to eradicate the Russian thistle, the seed is just too fine, and it only takes one plant,'' said Dwight Mosier, a Kansas State University Extension crops and soil specialist at Garden City.