As the Beatles song “With a Little Help From My Friends” played over a loudspeaker, a group of men raised a memorial banner showing photos of the Noyes Street fire victims at a memorial event Sunday at Longfellow Park in Portland.

Clusters of others stood by recounting memories of the six young adults who perished after a fire engulfed a duplex a half-block away at 20-24 Noyes St., on Nov. 1, 2014.

Attendees ate, played music and talked at a gathering to honor the victims, including tenants David Bragdon Jr., 27, Nicole “Nikki” Finlay, 26, and Ashley Thomas, 29. Also killed in the blaze were Steven Summers, 29, of Rockland, Maelisha Jackson, 23, of Topsham, and Christopher “Miles” Conlee, 25, of Portland, who were visiting the house for a Halloween party.

Sunday’s gathering was somber but also celebratory, just what organizer David Foster, a friend of the three tenants, said he hoped it would be. Children in Halloween costumes cavorted while the adults talked.

“It’s kind of happy. That is what they would have wanted,” said Meredith Gordon of Brunswick, a friend of Finlay.

About 50 people turned out and many of them went to visit the foundation of the fire-ravaged lot at 20-24 Noyes St., where someone had placed several pumpkins.


The gathering took place nine days after Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren acquitted landlord Gregory Nisbet on six charges of manslaughter in connection with the fire, which started in a plastic receptacle for cigarette butts on the front porch of the three-story duplex. It was the state’s deadliest fire in 40 years.

Nisbet was found guilty of a misdemeanor fire code violation for the lack of a secondary exit from the third-floor bedrooms, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A sentencing hearing is expected to be scheduled in a few weeks.

Nisbet faces a lawsuit filed by the families of the victims. Several wrongful death lawsuits were filed, but they were consolidated into one case.

People at the gathering Sunday said they are trying to move on.

“No verdict will make me feel better about what happened,” Foster said.

Michael LeComte of Westbrook said the gathering gave him a chance to talk about his niece, Finlay. LeComte said he hopes someday a permanent memorial to the victims will be installed in Longfellow Park. Meanwhile, he said, life is not the same without his niece.


“It’s nice to have a small gathering to celebrate all the good things about her,” LeComte said.

Krysten Libby of Brunswick displayed a painting she made to remember her four friends and two others who died in the fire.

“It represents us all hanging out at Noyes Street,” Libby said.

Correction: This story was updated at 10:31 a.m. on November 2, 2016 to correct the age of Ashley Thomas.

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