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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 14, 2015
Contact: Special Agent Robert Schmidt, PIO-ATF

Fire Investigators Determine Cause of Sturgis Fire

STURGIS, S.D. — The cause of the Sept. 8 fire at the Full Throttle Saloon located at 12997 South Dakota Highway 34, in Sturgis, was ruled to be accidental, today announced South Dakota State Fire Marshal Director Paul Merriman and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge James Modzelewski.

The ATF National Response Team (NRT), 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 fire. Investigators can say conclusively that the fire originated in the main part of the bar and has been determined to be accidental in nature. Damage is estimated at approximately $10 million.

“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 evidence recovered from the scene and conducted numerous interviews. The information developed was reviewed and analyzed to assist in determining the cause of the fire,” said Modzelewski.

The ATF National Response Team departed Sturgis today.

ATF’s NRT, composed 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


St. Paul Field Division