Fire in Copenhagen: Denmark's old stock exchange catches fire



CNN

A massive fire ripped through Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange, one of the Danish capital's most famous landmarks, with its tower collapsing as workers and citizens scrambled to rescue paintings and historical artefacts from the blaze.

“I can't describe how upset I and my colleagues are,” said Brian Mikkelsen, CEO of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which owns and has offices in the 17th-century building. “It's a huge disaster because it's 400 years of cultural history up in flames.”

Stunned commuters and onlookers were seen spinning around the building's distinctive 56-metre tower – shaped like the tails of four entwined dragons – moments before it collapsed and fell to the street below.

Some passers-by ran into the burning building and joined emergency services to carry large Renaissance paintings and other objects from the flames. The Chamber of Commerce said one of the saved paintings is “From the Copenhagen Stock Exchange,” an 1895 work by Danish artist Peder Severin Groer.

Troels Lund Poulsen, Denmark's deputy prime minister, called the fire “our own Notre Dame moment,” after the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the Paris cathedral almost five years ago to the day.

The fire started around 8:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET), a Copenhagen fire chief told CNN, and by 11 a.m. half of the building had been destroyed. The fire continued to burn till noon.

“Words are at a loss for how great a tragedy this is,” the Chamber of Commerce said. It said it was “a sad day for our country” and “the damage will unfortunately be very costly”.

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“We have tried to recover a lot of historical paintings and historical furniture that were inside the building,” said Jakob Vestet Andersen, executive director of the Greater Copenhagen Fire and Rescue Service. He said it was “too early” to speculate on the cause of the fire.

Copenhagen police have told people to avoid the area and so far no injuries have been reported.

A police spokesman said there were people in the building when the fire broke out, but they were all evacuated.

Ida Marie/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

Shocked onlookers watch as fire engulfs a historic building in central Copenhagen.

Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

People have recovered a painting from the old stock market after a massive fire broke out on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said a “piece of Danish history” was burning in the fire, making the building's cultural heritage “irreparable”.

The Børsen building has been at the heart of Danish commerce since the 17th century.

Just a few minutes' walk from Christiansborg Palace is the Old Stock Exchange – dating back to 1625. It was built in the Dutch Revival style at the request of Christian IV and recently renovated with its facade covered with scaffolding and protective casing. .

Denmark's Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said 400 years of cultural heritage had been damaged.

“How touching it is to see how the staff at Børsen, the good guys from the emergency services and passers-by are retrieving art treasures and iconic images from the burning building,” he added in a post on X, earlier on Twitter.

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Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Old Stock Exchange building is pictured before Tuesday's devastating fire.

Although emergency services were working to contain the fire, it spread through the lift shaft to all floors.

Frank Drier Mikkelsen, operations manager of the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department, said the fire was burning “violently” inside the building, according to state-owned TV channel TV 2.

Forty firefighters were inside the building and valuables were recovered, TV 2 reported.

Mikkelsen told the Danish broadcaster that the fire was the kind that emergency managers fear, explaining that parts of the building's roof had to be removed to put it out.

Machinery has been called in to remove some of the copper roof as water is bouncing off it.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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