Mpls. cops seek 2 in connection to Bde Maka Ska pavilion fire
Updated 7:47 p.m. | Posted 1:17 p.m.
Minneapolis police investigators Tuesday posted photos of two people allegedly at the Bde Maka Ska lakeside pavilion last week around the time a fire erupted and asked for the public's help identifying them.
The overnight fire destroyed the well-known pavilion and its restaurant, Lola on the Lake.
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City fire officials had initially suggested a lightning strike was to blame given the strong storms that moved through the region that night and the descriptions of loud booms heard by neighbors.
On Tuesday, however, police said they have ruled out lightning as a factor and are now looking for a man and a woman who were at the pavilion Thursday between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. in connection with the fire.
Investigators were not calling the fire an arson, but said they want to speak to the pair, who were not described as suspects.
The images distributed by police appear to come from surveillance cameras by Bde Maka Ska, which is also known as Lake Calhoun.
Louis King, owner of Lola on the Lake, expressed his disappointment at the photos. He said he didn't know the pair but believed the photos show them setting his establishment on fire. Lola on the Lake was about to launch its second summer season at the pavilion.
"They didn't know if anyone was inside. They really didn't stop and think about how they were hurting people," King told MPR News. "I never understand when people do things like this. My chef could have been in there, just doing the prep. Cooks go to work early."
Crews had fought the blaze from outside the building because the pavilion doors were locked and the structure's metal roof had collapsed, deputy fire chief Don Leedham said last week.
On Friday, The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said the nearly 90-year-old landmark building could not be salvaged and would need to be demolished.
Park board spokesperson Dawn Sommers said Tuesday the agency is waiting to see the outcome of the police investigation and that May 28 was the earliest the board would be able to demolish the building.
"We're grateful that they and everybody have been very thorough in their responses to this fire ... just trying to work through it and move forward," Sommers said.
Anyone with information regarding the identities of the two people is asked to call the MPD Arson Investigation Tip Line at 612-673-3070.