The old Copenhagen Stock Exchange building partially collapses in a fire

The old Stock Exchange building in central Copenhagen – one of the city's oldest structures, known for its elaborate spire of intertwined dragon tails – partially collapsed in a major fire late Tuesday.

No one was injured, according to a statement from King Frederick

It was not immediately clear what started the fire at the structure, which appeared to be under renovation. As of early Tuesday afternoon the fire was still burning with “pockets of fire” in the building, a Copenhagen fire official said.

The king said the building's famous spire had helped define Copenhagen as a “city of towers.”

“To this day, we have regarded the historic building as a beautiful symbol of our capital and a building of which we, as a nation, have been proud,” he said.

Authorities responded to the fire shortly after 7:30 a.m., officials said at a news conference Tuesday. Around 200 people were involved in fighting the fire.

“It is still difficult to work in a large part of the building,” said Jakob Vedsted Andersen, executive director of the Greater Copenhagen Fire Brigade. “The whole structure collapsed inside, so there are pockets of fire. However, there is no danger that the fire will spread to other buildings.”

It will take days for authorities to figure out what caused the fire in one of Denmark's most treasured buildings.

Jakob Engel-Schmidt, Denmark's culture minister, said in an interview late Tuesday that it was “terrible” to see the building in flames. “The building represents over 400 years of Danish history,” he said, using “Borsen,” the building's Danish name. “It is one of the last Dutch Renaissance-style structures in the world, where trade took place during the entire period.”

Amid the chaos, Copenhagen police said on social media they had evacuated several surrounding buildings and urged people to avoid the area.

The Old Stock Exchange Building, a 17th-century structure that was once Denmark's financial center, also housed numerous historical paintings and other artifacts. City officials removed valuables from the building after the fire broke out. At the time of the fire the building was occupied by Dansk Erhverv, a business organisation.

One of the largest works rescued was “From the Copenhagen Stock Exchange” by Peder Severin Kroyer, according to a local news report. The work, painted in 1895 and depicting several key figures in Danish finance, is more than 13 feet long. It took six people to get him to safety.

National Museum of Denmark said on social media that it sent dozens of workers into the building to remove cultural objects and assess the damage suffered by others before putting them away safely.

Engel-Schmidt said the old bag's artwork “tells us something about us as a nation and as a people.” She added that the building has been the backdrop to countless historical events and that it is ingrained in the Danish psyche.

“That's why there are people on the street, looking incredibly sad,” he said. “He hits me too.”

Several other officials complained about the fire, including Jan Jorgensen, a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, who called for the reconstruction of the old stock exchange. “Probably the most iconic building in Copenhagen,” he said on social media. “All forces must be united to rebuild this old, beautiful house in all its power and splendor.”

The building was built under the direction of King Christian IV, who recognized the importance of trade and commerce, according to the tourist site Visit Copenhagen. The original structure contained at least 40 market stalls and was surrounded by water on three sides to help ships easily unload their cargo.

On Tuesday, as firefighters doused the flames, dozens of onlookers stood quietly on the street, watching in shock, including Celeste Bolvinkil Andersen, who said she woke up when she heard her roommate screaming about the fire.

“It's kind of like becoming a first-hand witness to history,” he said. “I can't help but sit here deeply, deeply disappointed in myself, for not going in and not seeing Borsen from the inside. And now he is completely gone”.

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