MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis police confirm a criminal investigation has been opened into the fire that destroyed the iconic lakeside pavilion on Bde Maka Ska. Fire officials initially suspected lightning as the cause of the May 16 fire that destroyed the pavilion at 3000 E. Lake Calhoun Parkway, home to Lola on the Lake and formerly Tin Fish.
Minneapolis police investigators are now seeking the help of the public in identifying two individuals in connection to the fire. Police have released surveillance images of a man and woman who were at the pavilion when the fire started.
When he first saw the images pulled from surveillance video, Lola on the Lake owner Louis King was stunned.
“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,” he said. “It’s truly sad, and I want to commend the police for their swift action. They were there pulling our footage, and it’s just good to look forward to bring closure to the entire thing.”
When the fire was called in at 4 a.m. Thursday, it was right about the time of thunderstorms, which is why investigators began there.
But, as they looked through the debris of the 89-year-old building and looked at its security cameras and those from other public buildings, lightning is now officially ruled out. However, police are not ready to call it arson and are not ready to call the pair suspects.
“The food wasn’t that bad,” King said. “There’s no reason to burn us down. That didn’t make any sense.”
Anyone with information regarding the identity of these two individuals is asked to call the MPD Arson Investigation Tip Line at 612-673-3070. Information leading to the identification of these individuals may qualify for a reward.
The park board is working with the owner of Lola on the Lake to resume food service by Memorial Day weekend with Lola's food trucks at the park. Portable toilets will be installed. For now, crews have fenced off the building and put silt barriers in place to prevent building debris from going into the lake.
Pedestrians can still access the fishing docks south of the building. The Bde Maka Ska boat launch reopened over the weekend. The building for Wheel Fun boat and bike rental reopened Monday, May 20.
Pavilion left 'unsalvageable'
The fire at the pavilion left the building "unsalvageable," according to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. A structural engineer reviewed the damage Friday and determined the building can't be saved.
“We are devastated by the loss of such an iconic feature along the lake. As difficult a decision as it is, removing the structure is the right thing to do and will allow us to rise out of this and begin moving forward,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Al Bangoura.