Photo courtesy of Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department.
An early morning fire on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, destroyed the Full Throttle Saloon just outside of Sturgis, South Dakota. The bar was known as “The World’s Largest Biker Bar,” and had been the subject of the truTV series “Full Throttle Saloon,” which aired for several seasons starting in 2009. The Sturgis area landmark bar was a popular destination for hundreds of thousands of bikers who show up yearly for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Full Throttle Saloon featured post-apocalyptic décor, zip lines above the amphitheater, and unique entertainment like freak shows, midget wrestling and burlesque-style dancers. The bar is owned by Michael Ballard and his wife, Angie.
According to KBHB Radio, the fire was reported just after midnight with smoke billowing from the roof of the main entrance. The wooden structure quickly was completely engulfed in flames and the fire also spread throughout the compound.
Local fire crews from Forte Meade were first on scene. Personnel from Sturgis, Piedmont, Vale, and Whitewood supported the battle to extinguish the fire. Complicating matters, the location also is home to bar owner Michael Ballard’s Sloonshine Distillery. The distillery reportedly had approximately 500 gallons of grain alcohol on the property as well as other liquor on hand for the bar business. The establishment has no major water source except for onsite holding tanks which added to the difficulty of putting out the fire. Thankfully, no one was reported injured in the fire or as a result of battling the blaze.
Federal, state and local officials investigated the Sept. 8 fire. Officials ruled the blaze accidental. Owner Michael Ballard says the fire was caused by an electrical cord. Ballard states the power cord became pinched by a keg cooler behind the main bar and it heated up and ignited a cardboard box. The loss is estimated at $10 million. Ballard says he isn’t sure yet if he’ll rebuild.
Whether rebuilding or not, the bar was greatly enjoyed by many in the biker community. We wish Michael and Angie Ballard the best in whatever decision they make.
The Full Throttle Saloon 2014, Photo courtesy of Rapid City Journal.