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More in News
Judge gives landlord one month / fire department called for smoke
SAFETY ISSUE – A woodstove in the basement of 168 Main Street that caused the building to fill with smoke Saturday evening and forced an evacuation of the tenants. Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman said building owner Patrick McInnis was told prior to the incident not to use the woodstove.
NORWAY — A building owner in Norway cited for unsafe conditions in his apartment building has a month to evict his tenants, a judge said December 14.
On Friday, Patrick McInnis, 70, of 168 Main St., said he was done contesting the town's filing to evict his tenants. The building was found to be unsafe by Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman, who found major electrical deficiencies, including smoke detectors hardwired together, switches not grounded, some wires seared and materials in the basement that prevented easy access to problem electrical boxes.
Justice Robert W. Clifford requested a second inspection of the building. Fire Chief Dennis Yates had helped and said he crawled in places Corey-Whitman couldn't access and found even more electrical violations and life safety issues.
Late in the evening Saturday, Yates said, firefighters were called to the apartment building for a dysfunctional woodstove in the basement that filled the building with smoke.
He said all the tenants had to be evacuated from the building, and that McInnis was sent to Stephens Memorial Hospital, just across the street from his apartment building, because of smoke inhalation.
"To make the long story short, I told him 'do not use that wood stove,'" Yates explained.
Corey-Whitman confirmed Monday that McInnis was warned not to use the woodstove in his basement prior to the incident. She said McInnis stated in court Friday that he had run out of heating oil.
Corey-Whitman stated that the woodstove was "out of compliance because there was an oil-fired hot water heater and a hot air furnace tied into the chimney already, and the differing fuels (oil and wood) into one brick chimney of approximately [eight square inches] is not allowed."
In a recent inspection report, Corey-Whitman explains that the chimney connection is not sealed, allowing fumes to escape, which can be hazardous to all the tenants, particularly the first-floor tenant living directly above the furnace.
She said the liner of the woodstove is questionable and that a thorough inspection is needed by a qualified chimney inspector.
Yates said he was unsure whether the smoke was caused by the woodstove being plugged up.
"I am not sure what the deal was," Yates said. He explained that firefighters doused the inside of the woodstove and took out the wood to prevent smoke from continuing to spread throughout the building.
The town's attorney, Ted Small, named other problems with the building in court last Friday, including inadequate heating, oxygen and acetylene stored in an unsafe way, insufficient fire barriers and problems with plumbing fixtures.
“From the town's perspective, it's a public safety issue,” Small said.
McInnis said one of his tenants would be able to find a new place, but another tenant, a friend who was present in court Friday, suffered from physical ailments, didn't have much money and was worried about his ability to find a new home.
While the man could live in a spare room in McInnis' unit without paying rent, he said McInnis' smoking would make it impossible for him to live there.
Clifford said he would wait until the next civil court day, Jan. 14, before enacting an eviction of the building so that McInnis' tenant would have time to find a new home. For now, McInnis can remain in the building but can't rent out units.