Maine Landlord’s Appeal in Fatal Fire Cites Vague Fire Codes

January 24, 2018

A landlord who was convicted of code violations stemming from Maine’s deadliest fire in decades filed a brief in his appeals case citing a vague fire safety code as a factor in the blaze.

Gregory Nisbet was convicted following the November 2014 fire that killed six people in Portland. He appealed his conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and was given a 10-day extension when he did not meet an earlier deadline for the brief.

The code violations Nisbet was convicted of related to the safety of the apartment building where the fire broke out. He was sentenced to three months in jail. Officials say the fire started in a cigarette dispenser.

He was handed a short jail sentence for code violations stemming from the 2014 apartment fire, which was the deadliest in Portland in decades. The Portland Press Herald reports Nisbet has filed a brief that argues the fire code in constitutionally vague.

Nisbet argues that the code does not put “an ordinary person” on notice that his actions aren’t legal.

The fire started because of improperly discarded smoking materials on a porch. People on the upper floors of the apartment were left trapped as the fire consumed the building.

Nisbet was acquitted of six counts manslaughter at trial in 2016.

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