I wanted to share an experience which is dissimilar really but did remind me of your story. I recently acquired an Android phone. I don't have Twitter on it but I do have an app called "Scanner Radio". Scanner Radio is basically a cross between your old fashioned police/fire scanner and Internet radio. It allows you to listen in on police/fire radio, but from many more places than your analog antenna will allow.
Two of the more interesting features of the Android app are: each channel has it's own chat room where you can chat with others who are listening in on the same "frequency". The other interesting feature is that if/when an "unusually large" amount of people are listening on a certain channel, the app can notify you that something "interesting" may be going on.
I used to live in the Dallas, Texas area. A few weeks ago I was online chatting with a friend who still lives in that area. In the midst of our chatting my phone vibrated. I got a notification from Scanner Radio that a lot of people were listening to the Mckinney, TX feed. McKinney is in the Dallas area so I asked my friend "What's going on in Mckinney? Well my friend had no idea and it was nowhere on the news yet, so I decided to tune into the police channel for McKinney. Admittedly I couldn't tell exactly what was going on but I knew it was something more than a traffic stop. I joined the chat room for the Mckinney channel and picked up more information. There was a shooting near a community college there. Almost an hour later it was on CNN.
In my experience, that chat rooms are sometimes a little "noisy" where irrelevant chatter is being made, but I've yet to experience "spam" in the chat rooms. While there may be some noise it hasn't been much as far as quantity in my experience. Most of the people in the rooms tend to live in that particular area, so can chat with people who are close to the source of the event.
Anyway I also first heard about the Colorado fires through Scanner Radio. So it might be worth a try for someone who is looking for that kind of timely info but not happy with Twitter as a medium.