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October 24, 2016

Portland landlord found not guilty of manslaughter from Noyes Street fire

Portland landlord Gregory Nisbet was found not guilty on all counts of manslaughter stemming from the deaths of six people in Maine's worst fire in decades.

Nisbet was also acquitted of all misdemeanor code violations except for one, because the third floor windows of the 20 Noyes St. building were too small to provide a means of escape in the Nov. 1, 2014, fire, Maine Public reported.

Nisbet now faces 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine from the charge, Maine Public reported. The victims' families have also brought civil lawsuits against the landlord.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Nisbet would have been the first Maine landlord ever convicted of manslaughter for an accidental fire, which has thrust building safety into the minds of landlords across the state.

"These charges are a terrifying wake up call for landlords, that [face the possibility of] going to jail for 30 years," Brit Vitalius, the president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association, told Maine Public.

In a written statement to Maine Public, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings said that the Office of Housing Safety, which was founded in response to the fire, has registered over 18,000 rental units in the city and has proactively inspected over 800 properties and investigated 150 complaints.

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