Fire engulfs historic Copenhagen Stock Exchange, spire collapses

One of Copenhagen’s oldest buildings is on fire and its iconic spire has collapsed.

The fire was first reported at 7:30am on Tuesday in the copper roof of the 17th-century Boersen, or Old Stock Exchange. It has now spread to much of the building, and parts of the roof have also collapsed.

As firefighters battled the flames, passers-by were seen helping to rescue some of the country’s most cherished paintings and artefacts from inside.

Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said it was “touching” to see how many people lent their hand “to save art treasures and iconic images from the burning building.” One man jumped off his bicycle on his way to work to help in the effort.

“The extinguishing work is very difficult,” said firefighters’ spokesman Vedsted Andersen, adding that there are parts of the building that the firefighters cannot enter because it is too dangerous.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Located next to the Christiansborg Palace, home to the Danish parliament, the Boersen is a popular tourist destination. It features a unique 56-meter-high spire designed as the intertwined tails of four dragons.

FILE – A boat wades through the Nyhavn river, with the Old Stock Exchange building left in the background, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Ambulances were at the scene, but there were no reports of casualties. Members of an army unit were seen being deployed to cordon off the area, and the Danish Emergency Management Agency was also helping out.

The building had been encased in scaffolding. The roof, masonry, sandstone and spire of Boersen – built in 1615 and considered a leading example of Dutch Renaissance style in Denmark – was being renovated. The Danish Chamber of Commerce moved into the building after Copenhagen’s stock exchange left in 1974.

People watch as fire and smoke rise out of the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

The chamber’s head, Brian Mikkelsen, was among those helping to carry paintings out of the building. “It is a national disaster,” Mikkelsen told reporters.

The adjacent Christiansborg Palace has burned down on several occasions. In 1990 a fire broke out in an annex of the Danish parliament, known as Proviantgaarden. However, the Old Stock Exchange survived unscathed.

That annex, which lies in the block behind the Old Stock Exchange, was evacuated as a precaution, as were different ministries in the street behind the burning building.

Beside housing the Chamber of Commerce, the Old Stock Exchange is used for gala dinners, conferences, parties and other events.

Police said on the social media site X that a main road in Copenhagen was closed and people should expect the area to be cordoned off for some time. Several bus lines were rerouted and Danish media reported huge traffic jams in the surrounding area.

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