Portland Fire Dept. report details violations at 188 Dartmouth St.

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PORTLAND — Gregory Nisbet, the owner of a Noyes Street building where six people died in a Nov. 1 fire, has until Jan. 18, 2015, to remedy safety violations at 188 Dartmouth St.

The deadline was set Dec. 17 by Portland Fire Department Capt. David Petrucelli in a report detailing violations found in a Dec. 15 inspection of the property in response to residents’ complaints.

Property owners get 32 days to make required repairs or submit an action plan to bring a property into compliance. If they fail, the violations are referred to the city Corporation Counsel Office for possible legal action and civil fines.

John Veilleux, the lawyer representing Nisbet, said in an email Monday the violations stem from a problem Nisbet had with a former tenant.

“There is a landlord-tenant matter at the 188 Dartmouth Street property that relates to, among other things, damage caused by a now-former tenant of that building,” Veilleux said. “Mr. Nisbet is attempting to deal with these issues, but will not comment on any details at this time. Any alleged issues at other properties owned by Mr. Nisbet have no bearing on or relevance to the Noyes Street fire.”

The inspection report cited improper and excessive storage of combustible liquids, illegal locks on an exit door, no sprinkler protection over a basement boiler, unenclosed interior stairways to protect against the spread of flames, and a lack of fire alarms.

The multi-unit home is one of four owned by Nisbet in the University Park neighborhood between Forest and Deering avenues. City tax records indicate Nisbet considers a home at 124 Noyes St. his residence. He also owns a multi-unit building at 183 Dartmouth St.

City inspection logs do not show complaints from tenants at 183 Dartmouth, but the property across the street at 188 Dartmouth drew six complaints in the last 18 months, including allegations tenants were illegally inhabiting a garage without plumbing.

Noyes is the target of a wrongful death lawsuit filed Nov. 21 in Cumberland County Superior Court by the family of Nov. 1 fire victim Steven Summers. Summers, 29, of Rockland, was visiting the home at 20-24 Noyes St. when the fire broke out. He escaped but suffered burns over 98 percent of his body, according to court records.

Summers died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Nov. 4. His wife, Ashley Summers of Topsham, alleges Nisbet was negligent because the home lacked working smoke detectors and proper escape routes, in part because a bookshelf blocked a rear stairway on the second floor.

The fire was the deadliest in Portland since a 1963 fire killed six children in a home on Gilman Place in the West End.

Noyes Street tenants David Bragdon Jr., 27, Ashley Thomas, 29, and Nicole Finlay, 26; city resident Christopher Conlee, 25, and Topsham resident Maelisha Jackson, 26, also died in the fire. All but Summers died in the home from smoke inhalation, according to the state Office of the Medical Examiner. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

A new fund has also been established to provide financial support for Summers’ two daughters, ages 5 and 3.

Donations can be made in person or by mail to the Steven Summers’ Children Memorial Fund, c/o Key Bank, 400 Forest Ave., Portland, ME 04101. Online donations can be made at youcaring.com/stevensummers.

Questions about the fund can be directed to Emily Burns of the Hallett Whipple Law Firm, 75 Market St.,? Suite 502, Portland, or by calling 775-4255.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.