PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of the deadliest fire in Maine in 40 years.
Six people in their 20's died when flames ripped through a building on Noyes Street in Portland. The fire resulted in a criminal case against the landlord. He was acquitted of the most serious charges, but the case did send a message to all landlords in Maine.
“People have now become aware that there are some grave consequences for actions or non-actions taken”, state fire marshal Joe Thomas said.
At Thomas’ office, the phone began to ring steadily after news spread that Gregory Nisbet was being criminally charged in connection with the fire at his building.
“One of the things that I have seen that’s encouraging as a result of the Portland fire was I’ve had more contact with landlords, landlord associations and even tenants,” Thomas said.
Not wanting to be facing the same legal troubles, landlords were looking for help and advice. Thomas said his office provided them with codes and statutes they’re required to follow. Others were connected to resources at their local fire departments. He even met personally with some others.
While landlord Gregory Nisbet was acquitted of 10 of the 11 charges against him, every case is different. One thing that is not is the code all landlords must abide by.
“The life safety code of the state of Maine, as it is adopted, is under a criminal statute, so people can be held very accountable,” said Thomas.
The Nisbet case is not completely wrapped up. He’s expected to be sentenced on one code violation within the next few weeks.