Accidents on film sets are tragic, even more so when they result in loss of life. Last night a fire broke out in a building being used to film the upcoming Edward Norton/Bruce Willis movie, Motherless Brooklyn. The five-alarm fire drew a massive firefighter response, which, unfortunately, seriously injured two firefighters, and killed a third, Michael Davidson, age 37.
The fire broke out in the basement of a building in upper Manhatten that was being used to shoot the upcoming film. The location had previously housed St. Nick's Jazz Pub until it closed in 2011. According to Fox News, the film production had hung a sign outside the location labeling it the King Rooster Jazz Club for the movie which is set in the 1950s.
While the fire reportedly started in the basement, flames were later visible on the roof, showing just how large the fire became. The film crew alerted the fire department when they saw the smoke.
At this point, it's not entirely clear what happened to firefighter Michael Davidson. Reportedly, the firefighters inside the building were forced to retreat out the door due to the advancing fire, and Davidson was separated from the rest of his unit as they fell back. A search then began for Davidson, but when he was found, he was unconscious.
Motherless Brooklyn has been a long desired project for Edward Norton who is directing the picture as well as starring as the lead character, a private detective who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome. The film, based on the book of the same name, follows the detective as he searches for the killer of his best friend, a role that will be played by Bruce Willis.
It's unclear at this time what caused the fire to start, though there will certainly be an investigation. It's too early to know for sure if the film production itself was directly or indirectly responsible, though you can expect it will be under a microscope. The firefighter's death follows the recent deaths of stuntpeople who have died on the set. One passed away when a motorcycle stunt on Deadpool 2 went wrong. Another died on the set of TV series The Walking Dead. While Michael Davidson may not have been part of the film crew, his death still occurred on the set and should be considered in the greater conversation of safety precautions that may need to change on film productions.
It's an absolute tragedy when something like this happens. Firefighters are amazing people who risk their lives daily, but that makes it no less shocking when one of them losses the fight.