Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Survivors of Noyes St. inferno express grief and shock

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on November 10, 2014 in News
By Francis Flisiuk

Sam Hill | The Free Press

In the wake of a deadly house fire, the cause of which is still a mystery, several fundraising efforts have been started by community members mourning the loss of the six people who perished in the blaze.

According to Jerome LaMoria, Portland’s police chief, David Bragdon Jr., Ashley Thomas, Maelisha Jackson, Chris Conlee and Nicole Finlay all died on Noyes St. from smoke inhalation. The sixth victim, Steven Summers, died of his injuries in a Boston Hospital three days after the fire.

The Noyes St. tragedy, which is the deadliest house fire Portland has seen in 40 years, has unleashed a wave of grief, shock and reflection throughout the Portland community.

According to the Press Herald, Nathan Long, a tenant of Noyes St. escaped the fire with USM student Kyle Bozeman, by breaking a window and jumping from the second floor.

Long, still wearing borrowed clothing and shaking from shock told the Press Herald, “I feel numb.”

Long wrote on his Facebook page the day of the fire, “The smoke was so intense, and coming so fast. The fact that I didn’t have one minute to kick in the doors and save you will eat at me for the rest of my life.” Long referred to Bragdon Jr.,Thomas and Finlay, as “his family.” The three other victims were visitors to the house after a party was held Halloween night.

Bozeman and Nick Marketta, another USM survivor, declined making comments about the harrowing experience to the press because they “needed space to process.”

The survivor’s social media pages were flooded with messages of condolence, support and absolute shock. Many people also expressed immense gratitude that the survivors made it out safely. Bozeman received messages from tens of people that were all just relieved to learn of his safety.

Bozeman kept a positive dialogue going by thanking everybody for their support and good wishes and joined them in their grief over the six perished victims.

“I am beyond lucky to be alive,” wrote Bozeman. “You [referring to Bragdon, Thomas and Finlay] were more than just my roommates. You were my family. I had at least one angel looking over me. Now I’ve got three.”

Shannon Thompson, a Portland local, wrote on Long’s Facebook wall, “I am one of many people who are thinking of you and hoping you can somehow find peace with the loss of your friends.”

Through extensive posts about it on social media, and numerous mentions about it on the street, the Noyes St. tragedy has struck a deep chord in the Portland community beyond the immediate friends and family.

Eli Hubble a friend and co-worker of Bragdon at the Great Lost Bear, said that the entire community suffered a loss with this fire. Hubble said that Bragdon and Finlay brought nothing but joy to the world.

“Dave always had a smile on his face,” said Hubble. “I’ve never met anyone as happy and loving.”

Dustin Saucier, a local musician who’ll be playing in honor of the deceased at a fundraising event at the Space for Grace community center, described Bragdon as “a really nice guy.”

“I was completely shocked to hear what happened,” said Saucier. “I remember I kept thinking over and over again, ‘please let Dave be ok.’”

April Quebedeaux, a Portland local, was friends with three of the deceased and is still having trouble processing what happened.

“They were beautiful people,” said Quebedeaux. “I feel like there’s got to be some way to bring them back and then I realize I can’t. All I can do is hold on to all our beautiful memories.”

Quebedeaux said that she spent a good portion of one day last week sitting across the street from the Noyes St. house and staring at the burnt ruin.

“It was like my eyes were playing tricks on me,” said Quebedeaux. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”



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