NYC firefighter dies battling blaze on Harlem movie set

A New York City firefighter died early Friday after he became separated from his unit as they battled a fierce, smoky blaze that broke out in the cellar of a former Harlem jazz club being used as a film set.

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 12:20 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City firefighter died early Friday after he became separated from his unit as they battled a fierce, smoky blaze that broke out in the cellar of a former Harlem jazz club being used as a film set.

The fire started as the crew of “Motherless Brooklyn,” directed by Edward Norton, was nearing the end of its working day at 11 p.m. Thursday. Flames poured out the windows as firefighters stormed into the five-story building, dumping water on the blaze to get it under control.

Firefighter Michael R. Davidson of Engine Company 69 was assigned to the nozzle on the lead hose-line and pushed into the burning basement. But the blaze was too much and they had to back out, and Davidson was lost from his colleagues. Firefighters searched desperately for him, and when he was found he was unconscious after suffering severe smoke inhalation, fire officials said, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Davidson was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after midnight.

“This is 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.”

The cause of the five-alarm fire was under investigation. The building, built in 1920, is a landmark and was home to the former St. Nick’s Jazz Pub, a venerable bar that was closed in 2011.

Neighbor Joan Adams said when she looked outside after smelling smoke, trucks were already on scene.

“You could see smoke billowing out of what would’ve been the basement,” she said. It was white smoke, then after a while, thick black smoke was billowing out of here.”

The building was being used to film the adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name. Norton was directing and starring, along with Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin.

Neighborhood resident Daquan Evans, 28, told the New York Post he saw Norton at the scene, and he looked shaken.

“That actor Ed Norton walked right by. He looked pretty upset,” Evans said. “This is crazy, this fire. You think a movie comes up here and it is good for the neighborhood. Not a fire . . . damn.”

Two other firefighters suffered burns and were in serious condition, and three others were injured, Nigro said.

“Our department and our entire city mourn this tragic loss of a very brave firefighter,” Nigro said.

Producers sent condolences to the family of the firefighter in a statement. They said crews immediately called the fire department when they noticed smoke coming into the set and other parts of the building.

“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 statement read.

Neighbors 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.

Douglas Miller, 35, who lives across the street in a second-floor apartment, said the fire traveled fast and went all the way to the roof. He saw firefighters carry out one of their own, on a stretcher, and try to resuscitate him and give him oxygen.

“They tried to save him, but they couldn’t,” Miller said, and soon the firefighter was being rushed to a hospital.

Davidson had been a firefighter about 15 years and had been cited four times for his bravery on the job. 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.

A Pennsylvania fire department suffered tragedy this week when two firefighters were fatally injured in the partial collapse of a former piano factory in York.

Terre Haute
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 65°
Rockville
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 65°
Casey
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 65°
Warmer today with sunshine!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday: Mostly sunny, warmer. High: 87

Image

All You Need to Know for Monday

Image

SCAM ALERT: Pet sitter job con

Image

Historical Marker Dedication in Wabash Valley

Image

Historical Marker Dedication

Image

Elizabeth Smart Story

Image

Sunday Evening: Mostly clear, breezy. Low: 61

Image

Cooper Neese Inaugural Basketball Camp

Image

Sunday: Sunny and warm, becoming breezy. High 80°

Image

Wabishiki Day

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1612129

Reported Deaths: 27216
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61543610987
DuPage1042681360
Will876561092
Lake773641061
Kane66108852
Winnebago39170545
Madison38345578
St. Clair35140571
McHenry33177317
Peoria26076363
Champaign25967184
Sangamon24718273
McLean22003208
Tazewell19833326
Rock Island17919348
Kankakee16856235
Kendall15537107
Macon14565244
LaSalle14539278
Vermilion13343190
Adams12733148
DeKalb11729129
Williamson11528160
Whiteside7944176
Jackson774389
Boone762782
Coles7404113
Ogle718087
Grundy704582
Franklin693999
Clinton683798
Knox6715166
Marion6581138
Macoupin6525100
Henry625674
Effingham612882
Jefferson6116132
Livingston574196
Woodford556191
Stephenson549789
Randolph532197
Monroe510199
Christian496380
Fulton491570
Morgan488996
Logan478474
Montgomery470476
Lee460658
Bureau429188
Perry416671
Saline414064
Fayette403459
Iroquois396973
McDonough356656
Jersey324253
Shelby317343
Crawford307930
Douglas307636
Lawrence303431
Union297347
Wayne276057
White267730
Richland264455
Hancock258834
Pike258056
Clark253538
Cass252228
Bond244824
Clay242247
Edgar237545
Ford235956
Warren227161
Carroll226537
Johnson214925
Moultrie212931
Jo Daviess207226
Washington206627
Wabash202616
Greene200939
Mason200351
Massac200144
De Witt196830
Piatt192114
Mercer191234
Cumberland179825
Menard160812
Jasper153418
Marshall135621
Hamilton129821
Brown10228
Pulaski99211
Schuyler9748
Edwards96815
Stark77227
Gallatin7557
Scott6975
Alexander68111
Henderson66114
Calhoun6452
Hardin56414
Putnam5464
Pope4945
Unassigned1812432
Out of IL60

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482