New York

Investigation Continues Into Harlem Blaze That Killed FDNY Lt. Michael Davidson

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The FDNY announced wake and funeral arrangements Saturday for Lieutenant Michael Davidson, killed battling a massive blaze in Harlem late Thursday night.

The five-alarm fire broke out in the basement of the closed St. Nick’s Jazz Pub, where a movie, “Motherless Brooklyn,” was being filmed.

Davidson, a 15-year FDNY veteran and father of four, died at Harlem Hospital after being pulled from the burning building on Saint Nicholas Avenue near 148th Street.

On Saturday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the 37-year-old had been posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

All day, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, NYPD arson explosion squad and city buildings department were on the scene investigating. Fire marshals are trying to get into the basement to figure out the cause.

CBS2’s Lisa Rozner spoke with the building’s owner Saturday.

Rozner: “There’s some reports that there was some boiler work being done this week. Is that true?”

Vincent Lampkin: “We regularly — you know, people want heat, there was a snowstorm — regularly checking heat, checking hot water, regular.”

The owner said he’s been told to demolish the building down to the basement so investigators can get there safely.

“I’m so sorry about the man, the young man who died,” Lampkin said.

Director and actor Edward Norton posted on Instagram that the crew was “filming in a bar and an apartment within the building and noticed smoke rising up into where we were working.”

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.

A post shared by Edward Norton (@edwardnortonofficial) on

The bar was once a thriving jazz club.

Roberta Alloway told Rozner she was the manager there for a decade, welcoming the likes of Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis.

“When I saw it, my heart was hurting, I had a pain in my heart and I started crying,” she said. “It’s over. My history is gone.”

Earlier Saturday, Engine Company 69 held an emotional ceremony, hanging black and purple bunting in honor of Davidson on the firehouse he called his second home.

The FDNY also held a moment of silence for him at its annual charity hockey game against the NYPD.

Congrats to the #FDNY Hockey Team, who won the annual FDNY vs #NYPD Charity Hockey Game in a shootout. First Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh represented FDNY in the opening ceremony, and a moment of silence was held for all members lost this year to illness and in the line-of-duty

— FDNY (@FDNY) March 24, 2018

Viewings will be held Sunday and Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park, New York. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, Manhattan.

The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund has promised to provide financial support for Davidson’s family. To learn more about the fund or to donate, click here.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation has also pledged $100,000 to help pay off the family’s mortgage. To learn more about the foundation or to donate, click here.

The film’s production crew said it will work with the foundation to assist, too.

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