Charges: Lola on the Lake fire started by hookah embers

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A 23-year-old man has been charged for his role in allegedly starting the fire that severely damaged the Lola on the Lake restaurant at Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis last month.

According to the charges, surveillance video showed the man and a woman dump the embers from a hookah near the southwest corner of the building around about 30 minutes before the building was consumed by fire.

Nouh Omar Elmi, of Minneapolis, faces one felony count of negligent fire with damage more than $2,500 for his role in the incident. The criminal complaint says about $2 million in damages were sustained because of the fire. The building has since been demolished

Surveillance showed Elmi and a woman trying to light the hookah in stormy and windy conditions around 2:57 a.m. eventually, sparks were seen coming from the top of the hookah before they dumped the embers behind the trash cans a few minutes later.

The criminal complaint says the area where the embers were dumped is dry and protected from rain, but not wind.

About 30 minutes after Elmi and the woman disposed of the embers, the building was consumed by fire, around 3:42 a.m.

Responding to the charges on Wednesday, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Brad Bourn said, "Our parks are for everyone and we’re focusing on restorative efforts after the fire at Bde Maka Ska. We also value a justice system that is restorative, instead of punitive."