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Historic Copenhagen Stock Exchange in flames

Historic Copenhagen Stock Exchange in flames


By Paul KirbyBBC

Plumes of smoke billow from the Dragon Spire of the Stock Exchange which is on fire in central Copenhagen, Denmark, April 16, 2024. A huge fire ravaged the former 17th century Copenhagen Stock Exchange, toppling the emblematic spire of the historic building in front of horrified and moved witnesses.  Amid flames and black smoke, the 54-meter (180-foot) spire crashed into the street below the Borsen building, which was being renovated.  (Photo by Ida Marie Odgaard / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT

A huge fire ravaged the old Copenhagen Stock Exchange, dating from the 17th century, on April 16, 2024.
Photo: AFP

The historic former building of the Danish Stock Exchange, located in the center of Copenhagen, has been gutted by fire.

The 17th-century Brsen is one of the city's oldest buildings and onlookers were stunned when its iconic dragon-shaped spire collapsed onto the street below.

Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said 400 years of Danish cultural heritage had caught fire.

Members of the public rushed to save historic paintings and it took hours before the fire was brought under control.

In this photo taken on April 15, 2024, the dragon spire is seen on the roof of the Stock Exchange building, under renovation, in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Danish emergency services said on April 16, 2024, that the fire that ravaged Copenhagen's former 17th-century stock exchange, ravaging the building and toppling its iconic spire, was

This photo taken on April 15, 2024 shows the dragon spire on the roof of the Stock Exchange building, under renovation, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Photo: AFP

The building, dating from 1625, is a stone's throw from the Danish parliament, the Folketing, housed in the former royal palace of Christiansborg Castle. Danish media reported that the nearby square was being evacuated and that the main entrance to Christiansborg was closed due to smoke.

The old stock exchange was being renovated and had been surrounded by scaffolding and a protective plastic covering.

It is currently home to the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which described Tuesday morning's scenes as a terrible sight. Its director, Brian Mikkelsen, said nearly half of the old stock exchange had burned, but promised it would be rebuilt “no matter what.”

Local craftsman Henrik Grage told Danish television it was a tragic day. “This is our Notre Dame,” he said, comparing it to the fire that gutted the roof and spire of the cathedral in central Paris almost exactly five years ago.

The Paris fire broke out under the attic of Notre-Dame on April 15, 2019, while it was also surrounded by scaffolding as part of extensive renovations. Investigators blamed either a short circuit in the electrical system or a worker's cigarette butt that had not been properly extinguished.

Police cars park as flames engulf the Copenhagen Stock Exchange building, in Copenhagen, April 16, 2024. (Photo by Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP)/Denmark OUT

Police cars surround the Copenhagen Stock Exchange as flames engulf the building, April 16, 2024.
Photo: AFP

The cause of the fire in Copenhagen is unknown, but emergency services said scaffolding made their response more difficult. Authorities said the fire was most intense around the tower.

One of the craftsmen who were replacing the masonry of the building saw the fire break out on the roof while he was on the scaffolding. Ole Hansen said he shouted to his colleagues to get off and left the door open so firefighters could enter.

Denmark, Zealand, Copenhagen, Slotsholmen district, old stock exchange (Brsen) built in 1619 (Photo by RIEGER Bertrand/ via AFP)

The Copenhagen Stock Exchange building, dating from 1625, is a stone's throw from the Danish parliament, the Folketing, housed in the former royal palace of Christiansborg Castle.
Photo: AFP

Fire Chief Jakob Vedsted Andersen said firefighters faced an almost impossible task in accessing the area under the old copper roof. It was not until Tuesday afternoon that he said the fire had been brought under control, although much of the building had burned.

“Furniture, floor partitions and anything that could burn were affected by the fire,” he said.

“I am completely speechless. This is an unprecedented tragedy,” a witness told Danish media.

Citizens joined emergency services as well as the president of the Chamber of Commerce to rush into the building to save the Brsen building's important art collection.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen spoke of “terrible images” and a part of Danish history in flames.

Local museum inspector Benjamin Asmussen told Danish broadcaster TV2 that the fire was difficult to observe because the old stock exchange was filled with paintings by Danes who have played an important role since the 17th century.

Camilla Jul Bastholm, from the National Museum of Denmark, said several hundred works had been rescued and stored under escort. Among the valuable works saved was an 1895 portrait by PS Kryer of 50 Danish merchantmen standing inside the building in their top hats. Ornate chandeliers, mirrors and some clocks were also recovered.

King Frederik He succeeded Queen Margrethe II in January and events planned for his 84th birthday on Tuesday were toned down due to the fire.

The Dutch Renaissance-style building located on Slotsholmen, or Palace Island, was commissioned by Danish King Christian IV with the aim of making Copenhagen a major commercial center.

The famous arrow depicted four dragons whose tails were twisted into a spear and three crowns, symbolizing the close ties with neighboring Norway and Sweden.

This story was first published by the BBC.




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