A New York City Fire Department firefighter died after battling a blaze in a Harlem townhouse where movie crews were filming an upcoming Edward Norton film.
The FDNY confirmed that 37-year-old Michael Davidson was pulled from the 5-alarm fire in critical condition and later succumbed to his injuries at Harlem Hospital.
The fire broke out in the basement of the townhouse just before 11 p.m. and quickly spread through the entire Saint Nicholas Avenue building, according to an FDNY spokesperson. It took more than four hours for firefighters to get the massive fire under control.
Davidson, a married father of four, was cited for bravery four times in his 15-year career with the department, according to the FDNY.
"You haven't heard a scream until you've heard the scream of a mother who's seen her son give his life to protect us," New York City mayor press secretary Eric Phillips tweeted ahead of a press briefing at Harlem Hospital.
In addition to Davidson, two other firefighters were injured, one with serious but non-life-threatening injuries and the other with minor injuries. Three civilians also suffered minor injuries, the FDNY said.
Norton was filming his adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel Motherless Brooklyn when the fire broke out in the basement of the townhouse. The New York Post reported that it was Norton who first spotted the smoke coming from the basement and notified a cop.
A statement released by the producers of Motherless Brooklyn offered condolences to Davidson's family, calling FDNY firefighters "real life super-heroes."
Our deepest condolences to the family of Michael R. Davidson. A fire broke out tonight in the building where we were shooting our film. Our production was towards the end of our working day and had dozens of people working on site, when our crew noticed that smoke was coming into our set and into other parts of the building from below us. As soon as we noticed smoke coming up into our set, our crew immediately alerted the fire department and began alerting residents of the building even as we evacuated our cast and crew. To our great sorrow, we now know that a NYC firefighter lost his life battling the blaze that grew, and our hearts ache in solidarity with his family. New York City firefighters truly are the bravest in the world. We watched firsthand with astonishment as they charged into the smoke to make sure all were safely out and then fought to contain the blaze and prevent it from spreading, putting their lives on the line as they do every day. The FDNY are real life super-heroes and have our boundless admiration and gratitude."
"New York City firefighters truly are the bravest in the world," the statement said. "The FDNY are real life super-heroes and have our boundless admiration and gratitude."
The film, which is being directed by Norton, who also wrote the screenplay, is set in 1950s New York City and stars Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, and Leslie Mann. The story follows a private detective as he sets out to solve the murder of his friend.