Michael Ballard’s Full Throttle Saloon, a Sturgis, South Dakota, landmark was destroyed in an overnight fire on Tuesday, September 8. “The World’s Biggest Biker Bar” was made world famous when TruTV serialized the goings on behind the scenes of the establishment for a multi-season TV show, featuring Michael and his wife Angie.
The couple was visiting family in Tennessee when they received word of the fire. Fortunately no one was hurt in the blaze, which was fought by the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department, as well as fire departments from several nearby towns. The cause of the inferno is under investigation, and KOTA Territory News is reporting that a special ATF team has been called in to lend their expertise to the probe. The loss has been estimated at $10 million.
ATF Press Release:
Fire Investigators Determine Cause of STURGIS Fire
STURGIS, SD — The National Response Team (NRT) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with agents from the ATF St. Paul Field Division, the South Dakota State Fire Marshal’s Office, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Meade County Sheriff’s Office and the Sturgis Police Department have completed the investigation into the cause of the September 8th fire at the Full Throttle Saloon located at 12997 South Dakota Highway 34, Sturgis, SD.
The cause of the fire was ruled to be accidental, announced South Dakota State Fire Marshal Director Paul Merriman and ATF St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge James Modzelewski. Investigators can say conclusively that the fire originated in the main part of the bar and has been determined to be accidental in nature.
SAC Modzelewski said, “The ATF National Response Team and our investigative partners have completed their assignments at the fire scene. Over the past five days investigators have taken countless photographs, inspected and examined artifacts recovered from the scene and conducted numerous interviews. The information developed was reviewed and analyzed to assist in determining the cause of the fire.” The ATF National Response Team departed Sturgis today.
Damage is estimated at approximately $10 million.
ATF’s NRT, comprised of ATF personnel from across the country, responded to the scene to work alongside state and local investigators. The NRT includes a canine team, certified fire investigators, forensic chemist, electrical and fire protection engineers, and additional specialists. This NRT activation was the 15th this fiscal year and the 773rd since the team was created. More information on ATF and the NRT can be found at http://www.atf.gov.