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Dust Devil Forces Inflatable Slide Airborne in Nevada

A dangerous situation unfolded Friday afternoon in Sparks, Nevada, after a dust devil lifted an inflatable slide into the air around 2:30 p.m., PDT, as people gathered at a carnival celebrating the Fourth of July.

Luckily, no one was on the slide at the time, and officials told KOLO-TV that only minor injuries were suffered.

"It was almost like a mini tornado. I think the wind was probably 60-70 miles an hour and that was it. It just lifted it off the ground. Broke tethers, just lifted the tethers right up, ripped it right off," George D'olivo, the owner of Classic Amusements, told KOLO-TV. Meteorologist Erik Pindrock, said observations from the Reno area, which is just to the west of Sparks, reported wind gusts of 20-35 mph.

"Winds were light throughout the morning and midday hours before they started turning gusty in the early to mid afternoon," he said.

Pindrock added that it is not uncommon for bursts of wind to mix down from higher up in the atmosphere which could have caused a locally stronger wind gust in Sparks where the inflatable slide was.

D'olivo told Kolo-TV that the slide went through a safety check, and was approved by the city inspector as well as tied down by 1,000 pounds of weight. The slide landed about 300 feet away, KOLO-TV reports.

This is the third instance of inflatable slides or bounce houses being ripped out of the ground and into the air in the past several months.

A similar situation occurred in May when three children were injured, including two young boys seriously, after a strong gust of wind lifted the inflatable bounce house there were playing on in South Glens Falls, New York.

Two 10-year-old children were injured in Littleton, Colorado, last month after the inflatable slide they were playing on was blown across a park.

In all three instances, the inflatable structures had the proper safety measures in place.