NYC Fire Marshall Alleges City Covered Up Fire Death to Shield Edward Norton Film Project

A New York City Fire Marshall is now alleging that the New York Fire Department covered up a man’s death to shield the filming of an Edward Norton movie in March.

The fire occurred in a building that was being used for the film production, according to a report at the New York Daily News:

Fire Marshal Scott Specht, the lead investigator in the fire, accuses Chief Fire Marshal Thomas Kane, his deputy J.D. Lynn and FDNY Assistant Commissioner Carlos Velez of retaliating against him for reporting an alleged cover-up to the city Department of Investigation, according to a notice of claim obtained Friday by the Daily News.

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Marshal Specht served in Iraq as a helicopter pilot for the New York National Guard before he became a Fire Marshal.

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Specht’s lawyer, Peter Gleason, called the Fire Marshal’s treatment “deplorable and disgusting.”

“Specht, a combat veteran, doesn’t think twice about flying his Black Hawk into harm’s way and will never be intimidated by a few…bureaucrats who want to besmirch the legacy of a fallen comrade while protecting a pack of Hollywood phonies,” the Lawyer said.

The incident at the heart of the charges was a March 22 fire and building collapse on St. Nicholas Ave. The building was servicing as a set for a crime Thriller entitled, Motherless Brooklyn, starring Edward Norton. Also included in the cast is Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin.

The city said the fire was caused by heat from a boiler with a faulty ventilation pipe that ignited combustible materials. Firefighter Michael Davidson, 37, lost his life in the blaze.

The city declared it an accident, but Specht disagreed with the determinations. In fact, Specht blamed the movie crew for the fire.

In the notice, Specht states that his investigation found clear evidence that Norton’s movie company, Class 5 Films, illegally tampered with the building’s electrical system and that wood screws installed by the movie crew literally pierced electrical wires.

He arrived at this conclusion based on a series of observations he made during weeks at the fire scene, the notice said.

After crews were able to dig through five stories of rubble, he found that the boiler and its cinder block encasement were entirely intact. A two-by-four at the base of the boiler was undamaged by fire, as was a plastic bag hanging off the boiler.

Specht also noted that combustible items that should have been consumed by the fire were still sitting near the boiler that the city said started the fire.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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