“Our city lost a hero tonight,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted today. “Firefighter Michael R. Davidson was a 15-year veteran of @FDNY. The prayers of 8.5 million New Yorkers are with his wife, his four children and his loved ones.”
The fire started around 11 PM Thursday at the five-story building on St. Nicholas Avenue that, according to reports, once housed the St. Nick’s Jazz Pub. New York City council member Mark D. Levine retweeted video footage of the blaze – see it below.
Motherless Brooklyn, adapted from the Jonathan Lethem novel, stars Norton along with Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin.
According to the FDNY, the fire, which spread fast throughout the building, drew 39 FDNY vehicles and 175 firefighters. Davidson’s Engine 39 was the first company to arrive on the scene.
Dozens of Motherless Brooklyn crew members were working at the site Thursday when they “noticed that smoke was coming into our set and into other parts of the building from below us,” according to a statement released by the production. “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.”
“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 producers said.
Here is the full statement on behalf of the Motherless Brooklyn producers:
Neighbors told the New York Daily News that the film crew had “lined the block with cars and trucks from the 1950s, and turned the old pub into a set, hanging a new sign for the ‘King Rooster Jazz Club’ about two weeks ago.”
Davidson reportedly got separated from other firefighters at some point, and he was later found unconscious. He died at Harlem Hospital shortly after midnight.
A neighbor told the New York Post that he saw director Norton at the scene. “He looked pretty upset,” the witness told the Post. “This is crazy, this fire. You think a movie comes up here and it is good for the neighborhood. Not a fire…damn.”
“FF Davidson died serving the people of NYC and will forever be a hero,” the FDNY tweeted this morning: