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Edward Norton’s firm sued over on-set blaze that killed firefighter

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Edward Norton’s production company has been sued for 7 million dollars (£5 million) over an on-set blaze that killed a firefighter.

Two tenants filed the lawsuit against Class 5 in New York on Tuesday over the fire in an apartment block used for the filming of Motherless Brooklyn, starring director Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

The lawsuit came as the funeral was held for Lieutenant Michael Davidson, a 37-year-old firefighter who died after tackling the blaze in Harlem on March 22.

The #FDNYFoundation joins the #FDNY in mourning the line of duty death of Firefighter Michael R. Davidson. Donations can be made to the "Scholarship Fund to Benefit the Children of FF Davidson." For more information, click here: https://t.co/1VLfLOl1RI pic.twitter.com/tgVW3tKw4m

— FDNY Foundation (@FDNYFoundation) March 23, 2018

Erica Cruz said she suffered “severe and permanent” injuries during the fire and alleged Class 5 had been “reckless, careless and negligent” by having flammable and “ultra-hazardous” materials in the building.

She also claims the firm lacked fire extinguishers, failed to warn the tenants when the fire took hold and of “misleading the tenants into believing the fire had been extinguished”.

Ms Cruz, a mother of a young child, had to “run for her life down several sets of dark stairs engulfed in smoke unable to breathe or see”, her lawyer David Jaroslawicz wrote.

She and her brother George both sued for loss of property in the apartment, which they say was destroyed by the blaze.

Lt Davidson, a married father-of-four, was overcome by smoke as he tackled the fire and died the following day. A service was held for him at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

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

Norton, 48, previously refuted that the fire was caused by the production in a post on Instagram.

“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,” he wrote.

The lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court also names building owner Vincent Sollazzo as a defendant, accusing him of keeping the building in a “hazardous condition” by failing to install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

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