MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis police say they are seeking the public’s help to identify two people in connection to the fire that destroyed the 90-year-old pavilion on Bde Maka Ska.
The building housing Lola on the Lake caught on fire early last Thursday morning. The restaurant was just days away from its first anniversary. It took crews less than a half hour to put the flames out, but the damage was done. Crews deemed the building “unsalvagable.”
Investigators were initially looking into the possibility that lightning destroyed the building. They released images Tuesday showing a couple outside the building between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., captured on city-owned surveillance cameras. The man and woman are seen sitting at a table on the southwest corner of the pavilion for about a half an hour. Footage then shows the man bending over against the building with what appears to be flames near his right hand. A car associated with the couple was also caught on camera.
Authorities at this point won’t say the fire was intentionally set.
“We are not confirming that this is an arson,” Sgt. Darcy Horn said. “This is a criminal investigation.”
Lola on the Lake owner Louis King says he has no idea who these two people are, or why anyone may want to destroy his restaurant.
“I am troubled. It’s one thing for it to be an act of God. It’s another thing for it to be a deliberate act,” King said. “The food wasn’t that bad. There’s no reason to burn us down.”
King plans to be out at the lake this Friday with a food truck to serve the community and make the most of what’s left of the season.
The pavilion will need to be torn down, which could happen as early as next Tuesday. According to the Minneapolis Park Board, equipment and dumpsters around the building will be moved later this week so people can enjoy the lake over Memorial Day Weekend.
Anyone with information regarding the identity of the two is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Department’s arson investigation tip line at 612-673-3070.