Actor Edward Norton releases statement on fatal fire at Harlem movie location

Actor Edward Norton released a statement Tuesday on the fatal fire at a Harlem building last week, which was partially being used as a set for Norton’s upcoming film “Motherless in Brooklyn.”

The massive fire broke out on Thursday, March 22 around 11 p.m. in a five-story building at 773 St. Nicholas Avenue, the former site of St. Nick’s Pub jazz club. Firefighter Michael Davidson, a 15-year veteran of the FDNY, was killed in the blaze. He was 37-years-old and a married father of four.

In the statement, Norton disputed reports that the fire began on the movie set.

“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,” he said. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Norton also disputed reports that he was the one who smelled smoke and raised an alarm. ” I was outside setting up a shot outside the building. Our fantastic [first assistant director] was the first to notice the smell of smoke.”

He praised the film crew for acting quickly to evacuate the cast and crew and call the fire department. He also praised the bravery of the FDNY.

“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.”

Read the full statement below:

“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. Our team’s formal statement on the event is here in the slideshow.

It has been reported in some news outlets that the fire ‘started on the set’. This is 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.

It has been reported that I was the one who smelled smoke and raised an alarm. This is incorrect. I was outside setting up a shot outside the building. Our fantastic 1st AD 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. 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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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. Our team’s formal statement on the event is here in the slideshow. It has been reported in some news outlets that the fire ‘started on the set’. This is 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. It has been reported that I was the one who smelled smoke and raised an alarm. This is incorrect. I was outside setting up a shot outside the building. Our fantastic 1st AD 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. 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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