A New York firefighter was killed by a fire at a building in Harlem that was being used as a film set, officials announced on Friday, March 23.
According to a Liftable report, the five-alarm fire broke out in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Avenue shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, March 22, Daniel A. Nigro, the New York City fire commissioner, said during a news conference the next day.
The call had come from a film crew working on the upcoming movie Motherless Brooklyn, directed by Edward Norton. The site was a building that had once housed a jazz club.
Michael R. Davidson, 37, was responsible for operating the fire hose nozzle for Engine Company 69, the first to arrive. He was somehow separated from other firefighters when the blaze intensified and forced them to pull back from the building.
Though officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire, it appears to have started in the rear of the cellar, and that the boiler and electrical system remain of interest to investigators. The boiler was being worked on earlier in the week of the fire.
Mr. Davidson was described by fellow firefighters as 'strong as an ox' and 'just full tilt everything.' Those who knew him said he approached his life outside of firefighting with the same vigor.
He and his wife, Eileen Davidson, had four children, two daughters who are 7, 3 and 1, and a son who is 6. She said he would return after working a 24-hour shift and immediately start helping out around the house, he was also a really good cook as she mentioned.
On March 27 hundreds gathered at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown, to say their final farewells to the firefighter. Cremation took place later at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Davidson's casket arrived on the back of his fire truck, Engine 69 covered in a red FDNY flag.
Davidson's family were seen arriving at St Patrick's. Eileen appeared to be visibly upset. The widow and her children followed the casket out of the church after the moving service on Tuesday, before she was presented with her husband's helmet.
'Mike was just a terrific person,' Fire Capt. Robert Allen said at the wake of Long Island where hundreds of fellow firefighters lined the street saluting Davidson's coffin as it was brought inside the funeral home.
Actor Steve Buscemi, a former firefighter, joined Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the funeral to pay his respects to Davidson. Actor Edward Norton, who was on the scene of the fire, has also honored Davidson and vowed to support his family.
Fire officials said Mr. Davidson, who joined the department in 2003 and was assigned to Engine 69 in Upper Manhattan, was the 1,150th person in the department’s history to be killed on duty.