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ATF Rules Sturgis Bar Fire Accidental

Federal investigators say a massive fire at a Sturgis biker bar was accidental. A fire on September 8th charred the Full Throttle Saloon and the surrounding two acres. It caused about $10 million in damage.

Specialists with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent five days investigating the fire at Full Throttle Saloon in western South Dakota. The State Fire Marshal called in ATF.

Special Agent Tim King says the scope of the fire demanded 25 experts from the National Response Team. King says investigators interview people who saw the blaze to determine where they first noticed smoke and fire.

“From there, we look at other factors like, were doors wide open? Were windows broken? What did the scene look like on the inside? That would be indicative of somebody trying to break into the establishmen,” King says. “Were things missing? Did it look like somebody broke in and stole something?”

King says ATF investigators included electrical engineers, a chemist, and a fire protection engineer in additional to certified fire investigators. The team figures out what sparked the fire.

“We also can look at burn patterns. Where is there an area where the fire caused more significant damage than elsewhere?” King says. “And the areas where there’s more significant damage can be an indicator to us that the fire may have originated in this place rather than in another location.”

The special agent says federal investigators must determine the nature of the fire, because arson is a dangerous crime that threatens a community. King says ATF investigators report that the cause of the huge fire in Sturgis was an accident.

Special Agent Tim King says local investigators, state officials, law enforcement officers, and fire officials worked with ATF to find the cause of the Full Throttle Saloon fire.