Sturgis : On Sept. 8, the Worlds Largest Biker Bar, The Full Throttle Saloon just outside of Sturgis S.D. was leveled as the 10 million dollar facility burned to the ground. The fire was caused by a faulty electrical wire, according to owner Michael Ballard.
Officially, federal, state, and local authorities ruled the blaze accidental but failed to pinpoint a cause.
The Full Throttle was made famous by being one of the largest event venue draws during the giant Sturgis Motorcycle Rally every August. True TV added to the popularity of the Throttle by airing the “Full Throttle Saloon” T.V. show beginning in 2009.
Hundreds of thousands of bikers visit S.D. and Sturgis annually in August as the Grandaddy of all biker events brings this sleepy community to the center of the biker universe. The Full Throttle, and other campground/concert venues like the famous Buffalo Chip lures thousands of bikers from around the world to a wild and crazy 10 days of motorcycle chaos. The Throttle has become the second largest draw for bikers looking for fun and routy campground and concert activities behind the Chip. The Throttle is a mainstay for rally attendees looking for concert entertainment, drinking, and a generally wild biker atmosphere while in Sturgis.
Local fire regulations are nearly non-existent as campgrounds have not historically been held to strict standards as water infrastructure in rural areas is rudimentary. The City of Sturgis has attempted to annex the Full Throttle but failed on the ballot. Ballard and other campground owners have resisted annexation for years in an effort to avoid furthur regulation and additional expense. The city of Sturgis has talked of plans where utilities including water would be brought out to venues like the Full Throttle to make sprinklers and other fire suppressant systems available.
Ballard is on the record as claiming the saloon facility to be safe, highlighting six roll up doors in the bar that are used for exit points. He pointed out that his Donkey escaped without injury during the fire.
Local fire officials point out that it is also important to note that the nearest fire hydrant is over a mile away. Over 100,000 gallons of water was hauled by trucks trying to exstinquish the flames. Fire officals estimated the Full Throttle was fully engulfed in less than 6 min. Fire officials also say, “It is also important to remember that during the rally traffic would make hauling water to “The Throttle” would be impossible”.
Ballard could not be reached for comment as he is not answering the phone while keeping busy with the cleanup efforts. Sources close to Ballard say that no decision has been made regarding if the Full Throttle will be rebuilt.