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Medical Examiner Determines Cause of Death for FDNY Firefighter Michael Davidson

What to Know

  • FDNY Lt. Michael Davidson is being mourned in a second wake in Nassau Monday; the funeral is Tuesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan
  • The medical examiner has determined his cause of death as smoke inhalation
  • Crews are expected to demolish the site of the deadly fire in Harlem

UPDATE: Thousands to Flood St. Patrick's Cathedral to Honor FDNY Hero

The medical examiner has issued an official cause of death for FDNY firefighter Michael Davidson, who was killed last week in a blaze at a Manhattan building that was being used as a movie set. 

Davidson died of smoke inhalation, the medical examiner's office said Monday. A manner of death is pending further studies.

Meanwhile, the fire-gutted Harlem building at St. Nicholas Avenue and 149th Street is expected to be demolished, though it's not clear when that will happen. The Department of Buildings issued the building owner has hired a general contractor for demolition, and vacate orders have been issued for neighboring buildings until the demolition of 773 St. Nicholas Ave. is finished. 


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 Mar 24, 2018 at 9:49am PDT

The wake for Davidson, 37, continued Monday at the Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Nassau County, where he lived in Floral Park with his wife and four young children. Hundreds turned out to mourn the 15-year veteran of the force.

"From day one he was a rock," said FDNY Capt. Daniel Kudlak. "He was the real deal."

The funeral was planned for Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

The beloved firefighter died from his injuries in the fire last week. The firefighter got separated from his fellow firefighters while fighting the smoky blaze. When firefighters found him, he was unconscious and did not survive his injuries.

The fire broke out in the basement of an apartment building that is the set of "Motherless Brooklyn," which, according to IMDB, is being directed by Ed Norton and stars Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Leslie Mann.

Actor Ed Norton took to social media on Saturday to praise the FDNY’s bravery and his film crew’s quick thinking in the wake of a film set inferno that killed a firefighter in Harlem earlier this week.

“I have never witnessed firsthand that kind of bravery,” Norton wrote in an Instagram post about the fire. “I’m in awe of that kind of selfless courage.”

Norton added: “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.”

Davidson was promoted posthumously Saturday to a lieutenant. Meanwhile, purple and black bunting hung over Ladder 28 in Harlem, where he served.

Many remembered the beloved fireman as a leader, loved and respected by many. His devastated neighbors in Floral Park told News 4 recalled seeing the doting father often taking his kids to the bus stop and picking them up. One elderly woman said he had just shoveled snow from her home the day before: "He was such a kind man, such a kind man," said Peggy Healy. 

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