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ATF comes up with cause for Full Throttle Saloon fire in Sturgis

Megan Raposa, Argus Leader:

A fire that destroyed the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis was accidental, authorities said.

The Sept. 8 fire caused an estimated $10 million in damage to the iconic Sturgis bar.

The fire was investigated by the national response team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 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.

So figure I might as well post a few of my own pictures and videos from the fire at the Full Throttle Saloon. I was one of the first on scene. Was crazy to watch it all happen.

Posted by Kaleb Zook on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Previous coverage

KELO-TV:

The fire that destroyed the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis is stoking fears of a disaster during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The annual rally draws hundreds of thousands of people to the area. Meade County Commission Chairman Alan Aker says a large fire during the rally has “always been one of my nightmares.”

Meade County has 48 campgrounds, but the county didn’t have a building code until 2010 and fire-safe construction standards haven’t been applied retroactively. Officials say infrastructure also is lacking.

And another vid of the Full Throttle Fire

Posted by Kaleb Zook on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ATF press release:

For Immediate Release
Sept. 14, 2015 www.atf.gov
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.

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