UPDATED: A New York City fireman died on Thursday night from injuries suffered while fighting a blaze that erupted in a building being used to shoot “Motherless Brooklyn,” an upcoming film from Edward Norton.
Michael R. Davidson, a 37-year-old father of four, was critically injured while battling a five-alarm fire, the New York City Fire Department said. He was a 15-year veteran of the department and had been cited for bravery on four separate occasions.
Flames broke out in the basement of a Harlem apartment at roughly 11 p.m. as filming was taking place on “Motherless Brooklyn,” an adaptation of a novel by Jonathan Lethem that is being directed by Norton. Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Leslie Mann, and Willem Dafoe co-star in the Warner Bros. movie. Norton spotted the smoke and alerted officials, according to the New York Post.
“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,” Norton and the film’s producers said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to his four children, Davidson is survived by his wife, Eileen. 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.”
SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White said in a statement, “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.”
“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.”