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Rented Inflatable Goes Airborne, Two Kids Hospitalized

by by Staff Reporter
Posted On: 4/7/2011

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TUCSON, AZ -- A dust devil apparently lifted an inflatable children's environment 15 feet into the air and dropped it on a median of the Tucson Speedway, said a city Fire Department spokeswoman.

Two children inside the castle-style inflatable were taken to the hospital with injuries, which sources said were serious but not life threatening. | SEE STORY

The inflatable castle flew from a residential yard and was carried over three lanes of traffic before falling to earth again on April 2.

In February, a similar incident occurred with an inflatable castle being dropped onto the roof of a home, inflicting a concussion on the 9-year-old child inside.

A similar event occurred in east El Paso, TX, in 2010 when a dust devil picked up an inflatable structure with three children inside and carried it over three houses and a 10-ft. fence. The event was studied by U.S. Air Force meteorologists and reported in the Jan. 13, 2011, edition of the Fort Bliss Monitor.

Tucson Fire Department officials said parents are responsible for checking to ensure that rented inflatables are equipped with proper anchoring systems.

A dust devil is a term used in the Southwest to describe a small tornado-like air funnel. The primary vertical motion is upward.