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Full Throttle owner Michael Ballard: I will rebuild, but not right away
Full Throttle Saloon owner Michael Ballard said in a statement Wednesday that he and his wife Angie are devastated over the loss of their beloved bar, and that he hopes to rebuild it, but not immediately.
In his first public statement since the Sturgis bar and live music venue burned to the ground early Tuesday, Ballard said he walked the grounds of the destroyed club on S.D. Highway 34 east of Sturgis, and is still working through his emotions.
"Right now I have to process what has happened and then figure out the future. As our plans come together, they will be shared but as for today, Angie and I are devastated," Ballard wrote in the statement.
"Over the last two decades, the Full Throttle Saloon has been the epicenter of my life. Walking the grounds following this tragedy is simply devastating. We created a destination that resonated with working class America, and became over time a landmark for this great town which is Sturgis," he wrote.
"To everyone who made the Full Throttle become the special destination we all came to love, simply thank you. The support from the local community and those across the globe has been humbling."
He added that he has invested heavily in the Full Throttle S'loonshine distillery in his hometown of Trimble, Tenn., and that may prevent an immediate rebuild of the Sturgis site.
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"Because of that large financial investment I am not in a position to just start rebuilding today," he wrote.
Ballard also said the eponymous reality TV show based on the club and its employees and patrons will return to the Destination America cable channel in late November. The show had run for five seasons on TruTV and made the dreadlocked Ballard and several others into stars of cable TV.
Ballard went on to thank all the firefighters and officials who helped battle the blaze and investigate its cause, which remains unknown. The fire started early Tuesday morning and destroyed the entire club; the nearby rental cabins were spared. No one was injured in the fire or during the emergency response.