Man charged in Bde Maka Ska pavilion fire

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Authorities have charged a Minneapolis man in connection with the fire that destroyed Lola on the Lake.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Nouh Elmi, 23, has been charged with one count of negligent fire causing property damage of more than $2,500.

The criminal complaint says neighbors reported a fire in the early morning hours of May 16 at 3000 East Calhoun Parkway.

The fire caused an estimated $2 million in damage, and a structural engineer later deemed the pavilion ‘unsalvageable.’ The building, which first opened in 1930 and last year became Lola on the Lake, was demolished last week.

The attorney’s office said signs indicated the fire started at the base of the wall behind three garbage cans in the southwest corner of the building.

RELATED: Iconic long-standing building on Bde Maka Ska ‘unsalvageable’ after fire

Surveillance video from Lola’s and a neighboring business showed Elmi and a woman approaching Lola’s from the south at about 2:45 a.m. on May 16. Police later sent out pictures from that surveillance video, and later said the woman shown in pictures voluntarily went to police and spoke with investigators.

RELATED: Police looking for two ‘people of interest’ in Lola on the Lake fire

The complaint says Elmi took out a hookah from a bag about 3 a.m., and after about 20 minutes, Elmi dumped the embers from the hookah behind the trash cans, the complaint said. Eventually, the video showed flames at the base of a column.

The complaint states the columns are hollow and have a separation at the base from the ground, creating a negative air flow. It says that sucked the flame into the space, igniting the interior walls and moving up into the roof. By 3:42 a.m., the building was engulfed in flames.

Elmi’s first court appearance is set for July 10.