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Investigators Seek Cause of Blaze That Destroyed Full Throttle

September 8, 2015, 10:18 PM by Kevin Woster

Investigators Seek Cause of Blaze That Destroyed Full Throttle

Bikers and others gathered today at what's left of the Full Throttle Saloon near Sturgis, which was destroyed in an overnight fire. State and federal investigators are sifting through charred remains to find the cause of the fire.

Whatever the cause, the fight was over at the Full Throttle Saloon when fire crews arrived.

"They opened up the garage doors and couldn't make entry," said Assistant Chief Scott Lensegrav. "By the time they started working on it, the building becamse fully engulfed."

The blaze turned the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Biker Bar" into a tangle of scorched wood and metal along Highway 34 east of Sturgis.

While the fire was contained, the news burned hot on social media.

"Looking at Facebook, thousands of people have already gone in and viewed it from all over," said Sturgis resident Melissa Green. "So it has hit national. We've got people texting us and asking how bad it is."

It was bad enough to be dangerous, Lensegrav said.

"There was a lot of propane going off every once in a while," Lensegrav said. "We did have an acetylene blow up and shrapnel of that came outside the fire. But nobody was hurt, thank goodness. It landed near them and nobody was hurt."

Crews kept the fire away from the saloon's nearby rental cabins and the adjoining prairie. It barely smoldered by noon.

"And as you can hear now, they're starting to tear it apart so the fire investigate can start getting in there and look at what's going on," Lensegrav said.

"Whatever the cause, the impact is the destruction of an iconic rally party venue."

"It is one of the main rally spots," Green says. "That's where everybody comes to."

They won't be coming back anytime soon.

Agents for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene today. An ATF agent closed access to the property after local fire crews had allowed reporters in. The agent said the size of the fire was part of the reason ATF was there, but he declined further comment.

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