Scene from "Motherless Brooklyn". ©  Getty Images Pierre Suu / Contributor
25 Mar 2018

New York firefighter killed on a Harlem film set

Michael DavidsonPhoto: (Above)  Scene from "Motherless Brooklyn". ©  Getty Images Pierre Suu / Contributor

On Thursday night, a New York City firefighter died during a  fire in Harlem on the set of the film "Motherless Brooklyn."

Michael Davidson, 37, died of injuries in the blaze that broke out in the cellar of an unoccupied building, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a press conference.

"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," producers of the film said in a statement.

    Edward Norton is the film's director, and Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin are among the cast, according to Internet Movie Database.

    The fire broke out as the film crew wrapped up shooting for the day, according to the producers' statement.

    "We watched firsthand with astonishment as firefighters 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," it said.

    Tragically, firefighter Michael Davidson lost his life while battling the fire. He entered the building first and was later found unconscious by his colleagues and taken to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:16 a.m.

    "They encountered heavy fire and they did the best they could,"NY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told NY Daily News.

    "The fire continued to advance. Units were forced to back out of the building. Somehow while backing out of that building, firefighter Davidson was separated from the rest of the unit. The search ensued. Members tried desperately to find firefighter Davidson and when they did, he was unconscious.

    "Despite the best efforts of the members of our fire fighting forces, EMS and here at the hospital, they were unable to revive Michael and he perished."

    The producers of Motherless Brooklyn also released a statement, expressing their "deepest condolences" for Davidson's family.

    "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," they said in a statement.

    "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."

    The fire spread rapidly, forcing firefighters to back out of the building. During that time, Davidson became separated from the rest of the unit, Nigro said.

    Davidson was found unconscious after a desperate search. He was transported to Harlem Hospital, where he later died.

    Davidson had been with the New York City Fire Department for 15 years and was awarded for bravery four times, according to the fire agency's Facebook post. He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and four children. Davidson's father is a retired firefighter and had also worked in the same firehouse, Nigro said.

    Two other firefighters were seriously injured with burns and taken to Weill Cornell Burn Center; others had less serious injuries, Nigro said.

    Michael R. Davidson, a 37-year-old father of four, is survived by his wife, in addition to his four children.

    Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

    “Our city lost a hero tonight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement about Davidson’s death. “The prayers of 8.5 million New Yorkers are with his wife, his four children, and his loved ones.”

    “Every day in cities across the country, firefighters put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Their bravery is unmatched and their service invaluable. Last night in Harlem, members of the New York Fire Department protected SAG-AFTRA members and others on a production set. We are so grateful for their efforts and are deeply saddened to learn that several of those firefighters were injured and one lost his life.”, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White said in a statement,.

    “We offer our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of New York City Firefighter Michael R. Davidson and all of the heroes who have made the greatest sacrifice,” the statement goes on. “We honor your lives and are deeply grateful for your service.”