NEW YORK (AP) — A raging fire gutted an unoccupied residential building in Harlem being used as a film set and left a New York City firefighter dead.
The blaze broke out on the set of “Motherless Brooklyn,” directed by Edward Norton, at about 11 p.m. Thursday. Flames poured out the windows as firefighters swarmed the scene, dumping water on the blaze to get it under control.
Firefighter Michael R. Davidson was assigned to the nozzle and was to use the hoseline to suppress the rapidly spreading blaze. He got separated from other firefighters inside the building as conditions deteriorated and had lost consciousness when he was found by fellow firefighters. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“It’s an awful night,” Eric Philips, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a tweet. “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.”
Two other firefighters suffered burns and were in serious condition, and three others were injured, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
“Our department and our entire city mourn this tragic loss of a very brave firefighter,” Nigro said.
It’s not clear what caused the blaze that ripped through the five-story building. It was home to the former St. Nick’s Jazz Pub, a venerable bar that was closed in 2011. The building was being used to film the adaptation of the Jonathen Lethem novel of the same name. Norton was directing and starring, along with Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin.
Neighbor said the movie crew had set up a sign that read “King Rooster Jazz Club” about two weeks ago. Cars from the 1950s era lined the street.
“They started building the set two weeks ago and have been here every day,” Nathan Monroe-Yavneh, a neighbor, told the Daily News of New York.
Davidson had been a firefighter about 15 years. He leaves behind a wife, Eileen, and four children, three daughters aged 7, 3, and 1, along with a 6-year-old son. He was the son of retired firefighter Robert Davidson.