Skip to main content

Charges: Man caused Lola on the Lake fire by emptying hookah coals

The fire destroyed the restaurant on Bde Maka Ska.
Lola on the Lake

A 23-year-old man has been charged in connection with the Lola on the Lake fire at Bde Maka Ska, but not with arson.

Noah Elmi, of Minneapolis, has been charged with a single count of negligent fire causing property damage of more than $2,500.

According to the criminal complaint, Elmi was trying to smoke hookah outside the pavilion in the early hours of May 16, but was finding it difficult as wind from an approaching storm was making lighting the coals difficult.

Surveillance footage later revealed that Elmi managed to get the coals lit, and about 20 minutes later he dumped the embers from the hookah – a pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco – behind three trash cans next to the Lola on the Lake building.

As the criminal complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said, these trash cans were protected from the rain but not from the wind, with surveillance footage showing a fire taking hold a short time later.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"The columns are hollow and have a separation at the base from the ground," the complaint notes. "This creates negative air flow, sucking the flame into the space, causing the fire to ignite in the interior of the building, up the interior walls, and into the roof. High winds created constant air flow and movement."

By the time the fire was finished with the building, it had caused $2 million-worth of damage, leading to the pavilion having to be destroyed.

Elmi was identified after a woman also captured in the surveillance footage came forward and identified him.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.


Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 1.10.48 PM

2 persons of interest in Lola on the Lake fire ID'd, no arrests made

The restaurant at Bde Maka Ska sustained significant damage.

Lola on the Lake's food truck at Bde Maka Ska.

Lola on the Lake returns... in the form of a food truck

This comes a couple weeks after the Bde Maka Ska restaurant burned down.

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 1.10.48 PM

Images released of persons of interest in Lola on the Lake fire

The fire was originally thought to have been caused by lightning.


Lola's on the Lake returning to Bde Maka Ska, along with Pimento Kitchen

The Jamaican restaurant is partnering with Lola's on the Lake to open in 2023.

Bde Maka Ska

Body pulled from channel in Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

The man's body was recovered between Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska.

bike trail at Lake Calhoun Park Bde Maka Ska 2015 flickr

Guess what the new name of Lake Calhoun Park is...

It's been renamed Bde Maka Ska Park by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Lola on the Lake

Historic pavilion at Bde Maka Ska to be torn down after fire

The decision comes after Lola on the Lake burned down on Thursday.

Bde Maka Ska

Authorities ID man found dead in Bde Maka Ska channel in November

The 39-year-old's cause of death was freshwater drowning.