NYC firefighter dies battling blaze on Harlem movie set


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NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City firefighter died early today battling a fierce blaze on a movie set after getting separated from his fellow firefighters in the thick smoke.

The fire started in the cellar of a former jazz club 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 Harlem building, dumping water on the blaze to get it under control.

Firefighter Michael R. Davidson of Engine Co. 69 was assigned to the nozzle on the lead hose-line and pushed into the burning basement.

But the blaze was too much. Firefighters had to back out, and the 15-year Fire Department veteran was separated from his colleagues. Firefighters searched desperately for him, and he was found unconscious after suffering severe smoke inhalation, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Davidson was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after midnight.

"Our city lost a hero," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet before visiting the fire scene this evening. The Democrat called Davidson's death "a heartbreaking tragedy for the entire city."

Davidson, a second-generation firefighter, had been cited four times for bravery during 15 years on the job.

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.

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