Norton praises firefighters, crew following ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ blaze

FDNY firefighters continued to work Friday at the scene of a five-alarm fire that broke out in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Avenue in New York City on Thursday. The building was being used as a filming location for a movie directed by Edward Norton. New York firefighter Michael R. Davidson was killed and two others were seriously injured. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

March 25 (UPI) — Edward Norton took to Instagram on Saturday to give his account of an incident that killed a New York firefighter where Norton was directing a film Thursday.

Michael Davidson, a 15-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, died from injuries he sustained on the job. Two other firefighters were also treated for serious burns.

“Many of you know that the crew of our film Motherless Brooklyn experienced a dramatic and ultimately tragic event on Thursday night, in which a fire engulfed the building we were working in and an FDNY firefighter died fighting the blaze. Thanks to the many, many people who have written to us supportively,” Norton said in his online post Saturday.

Norton wrote and is directing the 1950s-set noir thriller. He also stars alongside Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem DafoeAlec Baldwin, Cherry Jones, Ethan Suplee, Leslie Mann, Josh Pais, Fisher Stevens, Michael K. Williams and Robert Wisdom in the movie, which was inspired by Jonathan Lethem’s novel by the same name.

Norton went on to say in his Instagram message that media reports stating the fire “started on the set” of his movie are incorrect.

“It appears to have started in the basement cellar of the building we were working in. We were filming in a bar and an apartment within the building and our crew noticed smoke rising up into where we were working,” he explained.

Norton also disputed accounts crediting him with being the first one to smell smoke and raise an alarm.

“This is incorrect. I was outside setting up a shot outside the building. Our fantastic 1st [assistant director] was the first to notice the smell of smoke before anyone even saw it and it was he and others on the crew who acted decisively and quickly to try to locate the source of the smoke, evacuate cast and crew, call the fire department and then rapidly move our equipment and vehicles away so that the FDNY had clear access,” he continued. “I cannot praise the professionalism of our crew highly enough. Had our team not noticed the situation and responded and alerted the fire department with the speed they did, I believe the residents of the building above would have perished. And though we described what we saw the FDNY do in our statement and articulated our feelings, it’s worth doubling down. I have never witnessed firsthand that kind of bravery. I’m in awe of that kind of selfless courage. It’s devastating to contemplate that one of the men we watched charging in there lost his life. Please send a prayer of thanks for the spirit and courage of Michael Davidson. Our team is committed to honoring him and assisting his family and, in due course, when we can determine with his family what form they’d like that to take, I’ll pass along any information I have about a verified way people can contribute.”


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