Copenhagen's historic Stock Exchange catches fire and the spire collapses

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — One of Copenhagen's oldest buildings has caught fire and its iconic tower has collapsed.

The blaze, which started Tuesday in the 17th-century Old Stock Exchange, or Boersen's Copper Roof, has now spread to much of the building, and parts of the roof have collapsed, said Jacob Westet Anderson, a spokesman for firefighters. The fire was first reported around 7.30 am

“Fighting is very difficult,” said Wested Anderson, adding that there are parts of the building that firefighters can't enter because it's too dangerous.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Located near the Christiansborg Palace, which houses the parliament, the building is a popular tourist attraction. Its distinctive tower, shaped like the tails of four dragons, reaches a height of 56 meters (184 ft).

A huge plume of smoke rose over Copenhagen and people rushed into the building to save the paintings.

Danish Culture Minister Jacob Engel-Schmidt said it was “touching” to see how passers-by helped emergency services to “save art treasures and iconic images from the burning building”.

Ambulances were at the scene, but there were no reports of casualties. Members of the military unit were seen being sent to cordon off the area, and the Danish Emergency Management Agency was also assisting.

The building was covered in scaffolding. Built in 1615, Porson's roof, masonry, sandstone and spire – a leading example of the Dutch Revival style in Denmark – is being renovated, according to the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which moved into the building after Copenhagen's stock exchange exited in 1974.

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Brian Mickelson, president of the chamber, was among those who helped carry the paintings out of the building. “This is a national disaster,” Mikkelsen told reporters.

The nearby Christiansborg Palace has burned on several occasions, most recently in 1990 when a fire broke out in an annex of the Danish Parliament known as the Providentgarden. However, the old stock market escaped unscathed.

That compound, on the block behind the Old Stock Exchange, was evacuated as a precaution, as were the various ministries on the street behind the burning building.

Apart from the Chamber of Commerce, the Old Stock Exchange is used for dinners, conferences, banquets and other events.

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

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