May 27, 2024

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Copenhagen Fire: The old stock exchange in Denmark catches fire

Copenhagen Fire: The old stock exchange in Denmark catches fire


A massive fire swept through Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange, one of the Danish capital's most famous landmarks, causing its tower to collapse as employees and citizens rushed to save historical paintings and artifacts from the blaze.

“I cannot describe how upset me and my colleagues are,” said a visibly emotional Brian Mikkelsen, chief executive of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which has offices in the 17th-century building. “It's a huge disaster, because 400 years of cultural history is being burned.”

Stunned passengers and onlookers watched the blazing flames swirl around the building's distinctive 56-metre-tall tower – shaped like the tails of four intertwined dragons – moments before it collapsed and fell into the street below.

Some passersby even joined emergency services to run inside the burning building and help carry large Renaissance paintings and other objects away from the fire. The Chamber of Commerce said that among the rescued paintings was a painting by Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer dating back to 1895 entitled “From the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.”

Danish Deputy Prime Minister Troels Lund Poulsen described the fire as “our Notre Dame moment,” referring to the fire that destroyed the roof and tower of the Paris Cathedral, nearly five years ago.

The fire started at around 8:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET), and by 11 a.m. nearly half of the building had been destroyed, Copenhagen's fire chief told CNN. The fire was still burning late in the afternoon.

The Chamber of Commerce said it “cannot express the magnitude of this tragedy.” She said it was a “sad day for our country” and that “the damage will unfortunately be very heavy.”

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“We tried to save a lot of historical paintings that were inside the building and historical furniture,” Jacob Vedsted Andersen, executive director of the Greater Copenhagen Fire and Rescue Service, told CNN. He said it was “too early” to speculate on the causes of the fire.

Copenhagen police asked people to avoid the area and there have been no reports of injuries so far.

A police spokesman said that people were in the building when the fire broke out, but they were all evacuated, adding that military personnel were at the scene to support firefighting efforts.

Ida Marie/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

Stunned onlookers watch the fire engulf the historic building in central Copenhagen.

Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

People rescue a painting from the old stock exchange after a violent fire broke out on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said a “piece of Danish history” was burning, describing the building's cultural heritage as “irreplaceable.”

The Børsen Building has been at the heart of Danish business since the 17th century.

The Old Stock Exchange – located just a few minutes' walk from Christiansborg Palace – dates back to 1625. Built in the Dutch Renaissance style at the request of King Christian IV, it has recently undergone renovations with its facade covered in scaffolding and protective coverings. .

Danish Culture Minister Jacob Engel-Schmidt said that 400 years of cultural heritage had been damaged.

He added in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter: “How touching to see how the staff at Börsen, the kind people from the emergency services and passers-by are working together to rescue artistic treasures and iconic photographs from the burning building.”

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Luke McGregor/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The old stock exchange building is photographed before Tuesday's devastating fire.

Emergency services are working to control the fire, but it has spread to all floors through the elevator shaft.

Frank Trier Mikkelsen, director of operations at the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department, said the fire was burning “violently” inside the building, according to the government-owned TV2 television channel.

Channel 2 reported that forty firefighters were inside the building, and valuables were saved.

Mikkelsen told Danish Radio that the fire is the type that emergency managers fear, explaining that parts of the building's roof must be removed to extinguish it.

He added that machines were called in to remove some of the copper roof, as water was bouncing off it.

This story has been updated with further developments.