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Copenhagen stock exchange fire: Spire collapses as historic Borsen engulfed in flames

The fire had been brought under control but firefighting continued throughout the night
Smoke billows following a fire at the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, in Copenhagen, Denmark, April 16. Photo via Reuters
Smoke billows following a fire at the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, in Copenhagen, Denmark, April 16. Photo via Reuters

A fire that ripped through Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange, one of the Danish capital’s most famous landmarks, was brought under control on Tuesday after the flames toppled its spire.

The fire broke out in the 17th century Dutch Renaissance-style building on Tuesday morning. It was quickly engulfed in flames while thick grey smoke rose above the city in scenes reminiscent of the 2019 blaze at Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral.

There were no reports of casualties.

Video showed the flaming spire breaking in half as it tumbled down, a chunk crashing to the ground next to a fire truck.

Emergency services, employees from the Danish Chamber of Commerce, including its CEO Brian Mikkelsen, and even passers-by were seen carrying paintings away from the building in a race to save historic artefacts from the flames.

Soldiers of the Royal Life Guards helped to cordon off streets and secure valuables.

“Everybody is crying at the Danish Chamber of Commerce right now,” Mikkelsen, told reporters, shaking his head in disbelief.

“It’s our cultural heritage that I’m looking at. It’s 400 years that have shaped Danish cultural history and the society we live in today.”

The fire had been brought under control but firefighting would continue throughout the night, Copenhagen fire department chief Jakob Vedsted Andersen told reporters in the afternoon.

“Unfortunately we didn’t succeed. A large part of the Stock Exchange is badly damaged by fire, but many of the valuables have been saved,” he said.

The Danish Chamber of Commerce, which has owned the building since 1857, was working on restoring it to the style of Denmark’s King Christian IV, who had it constructed in the 17th century.

The building no longer houses the stock exchange but serves as the Chamber of Commerce headquarters.

It was clad in scaffolding when the fire broke out, making it harder for the emergency services to get through to the flames, while the copper roof trapped the heat.

Several hundred pieces of art and artefacts including paintings, mirrors, chandeliers and timepieces were saved by firefighters before flames destroyed most of the interior.

Among the works saved were paintings by Denmark’s Peder Severin Kroyer, a 19th century impressionist, said Camilla Jul Bastholm of the National Museum of Denmark.

Parts of the roof had collapsed and the fire spread to several floors of the building.

It was not clear what caused the blaze. Police said they would begin investigating as soon as they could gain access.

‘Our own Notre-Dame moment’

“Horrible pictures from the Bourse. So sad. An iconic building that means a lot to all of us … Our own Notre-Dame moment,” Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen wrote on X.

Schoolteacher Elisabeth Handberg said she and her pupils had watched the smoke from their classroom window.

“At first I couldn’t believe it was true,” she said. “I’m hoping it will be rebuilt, it can’t be any other way.”

Software engineer Thor Koustrup, 23, stopped to watch the blaze on his way to work. “I can feel it hitting me inside,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Mikkelsen said that the board had already decided they would rebuild the Stock Exchange.

Dragons on the roof

The building was originally built for trading in goods such as tea and spices. The spire was shaped as the tails of four dragons intertwined, symbolizing the protection of the gold that trade would generate for Denmark.

The spire also had three crowns at the top, symbolizing the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

“An important part of our architectural heritage was and still is in flames,” King Frederik wrote in a post. “For generations, the characteristic dragon spire has helped to characterise Copenhagen as the ‘city of towers’.”

The nearby finance ministry was evacuated as a result of the fire, police said.

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