By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,282)
The cause of the deadly Noyes Street fire last November was accidental in nature. It was driven by human behavior said Portland Fire Department Chief Jerome LaMoira this morning. The fire was the result of an improperly discarded smoking material (cigarette) and originated in a smoking receptacle which was placed on the front porch of the building the Chief LaMoira said at a press conference at city hall. The receptacle was improperly used because it was placed on a combustible wooden floor and next to combustibles that contained recycling containers and furniture.
Chief LaMoira went on to say that making the situation even worse were the blocked exits inside the building and that there were no working smoke detectors at the time of the blaze. But the Chief added there was nothing criminal in nature here. Only a portion of the full report was released today. That’s because the full report is being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Chief Lamoira said that the report is being forward to the DA because there are “legal issues about the use” of the building. Because of this, the full report is not being made available to the public at this time. Once the DA’s office has been able to draw a conclusion, the report will be made public. The release of this information was by the State Fire Marshall’s Office and the Portland Fire Department jointly. The ATF report is still unfinished.
Ashley Summer, 25, the widow of Steven , a victim of the fire, attended the press conference with her attorney,Tom Hallett, Hallett & Whipple, Portland defense attorneys. .Shortly after the fire, Hallett filed a lawsuit against Greg Nisbett, the owner of the property at 20-24 Noyes Street. “This landlord had an obligation to go through his building and make sure the smoke detectors were working. That’s Maine State Law,” said Hallett. Whenever a new tenant moves into a building, just a few days before, the landlord is legally required to inspect the smoke detectors. Nisbett didn’t do that Hallett said. “He was running the place like a boarding house,” Hallett said. “We are prepared to go forward with this lawsuit.”
Summer and her late husband, Steven a Navy veteran, had two young daughters. They’d been married for seven years with an anniversary coming up in two months. “My girls still don’t understand what happened. I’ll have to tell them when they are older.” Summer also said that as an outgrowth of this tragedy, a number of fundraising organizations have emerged; some of them are frauds and scams she said. They have no intention of helping the victims of the Noyes Street fire.
This one is not a scam said Summer. She said that Carol Schiller, president of the University Neighborhood Organization, has formed a memorial exploratory committee to consider a memorial sculpture to the fire victims at Longfellow Park. One meeting was held on January 15th. Please contact Schiller for more information. Call “UNO” at 772-3243.