Fire Rages Through Iconic Danish Building

Citizens scrambled to save treasures from Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2024 8:34 PM CDT
Fire Rages Through Iconic Danish Building
Fire and smoke rise out of the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, April 16, 2024.   (Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

A fire raged through one of Copenhagen's oldest buildings on Tuesday, causing the collapse of the iconic spire of the 17th-century Old Stock Exchange as passersby rushed to help emergency services save priceless paintings and other valuables. 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," the AP reports. One man jumped off his bicycle on his way to work to help.

  • Brian Mikkelsen, chief of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which is headquartered in the Old Stock Exchange, and his staff were seen scrolling through a binder of photos of paintings to be saved. The works were carried to the nearby parliament and Danish National Archives around the corner. "We have been able to rescue a lot," a visibly moved Mikkelsen told reporters. "It is a national disaster." He also took part in saving valuables from the flames, and said they had to use tools including a crowbar to remove them.

  • The fire began Tuesday morning in the copper roof of the Old Stock Exchange, or Boersen, spread to much of the building and the roof, parts of which also collapsed, and destroyed the building's interior, said firefighters spokesman Jakob Vedsted Andersen.
  • The building, next to the Christiansborg Palace where the parliament sits, is a popular tourist attraction. Its distinctive spire, in the shape of the tails of four dragons twined together, reached a height of 184 feet. King Frederik wrote on Instagram that "they woke up to a sad sight" of "an important part of our architectural heritage" being destroyed. Queen Margrethe, who turned 84 Tuesday, toned down the celebrations because of the fire.
  • The building and the spire 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—was being renovated, said the Chamber of Commerce, which moved into the building after Copenhagen's stock exchange left in 1974.
  • It was unclear what will happen to the iconic building. Engel-Schmidt, the culture minister, wrote on X that "I will do everything I can so that the dragon spire will once again tower over Copenhagen," and said it had been "a symbol of Denmark's strong history as a trading nation."
(More Denmark stories.)

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