April 16, 2024

DENMARK: 400 Year Old Copenhagen Stock Exchange Goes Up In Flames On 4/16. Everyone Inside Managed To Evacuate. Many People Rushed To Rescue Historic Paintings Inside.

BBC News published April 16, 2024: Copenhagen's historic stock exchange in flames. Denmark's historic old stock exchange building in the centre of Copenhagen has been engulfed by fire. The 17th Century Børsen is one of the city's oldest buildings and onlookers gasped as its iconic spire collapsed in the flames. Everyone inside the building was able to leave and people rushed to rescue some of its historic paintings.
Guardian News published April 16, 2024: Paintings rescued after fire breaks out at Copenhagen's former stock exchange. Dramatic footage shows artworks being removed from Copenhagen's 17th-century former stock exchange after the landmark building was engulfed in flames. Huge plumes of black smoke were seen rising from the Dutch Renaissance-style building, which was undergoing renovation and clad in scaffolding. People were seen rushing in and out of the building carrying paintings to safety, and Danish media reported an annexe of the parliament and several ministries nearby, including the finance ministry, had been evacuated.
Daily Mail published April 16, 2024: Emotional woman attempts to enter Copenhagen's burning stock exchange.

This footage shows the moment an emotional woman was stopped by a firefighter after attempting to enter Copenhagen's burning stock exchange building. It is not known why she was running towards the building, but she appeared to be very distressed. In a courageous act, more footage shows people retrieve a painting from the wrecked building and carrying it to safety. The building, which is situated next to the Christiansborg Palace where the parliament sits, is a popular tourist attraction and has been photographed millions of times. Its distinctive spire, in the shape of the tails of four dragons twined together, reached a height of 56 meters (184 feet). Huge billows of smoke rose over downtown Copenhagen and people were seen rushing inside the building to save paintings. The plume could be seen from southern Sweden, which is separated by a narrow waterway. Ambulances were at the scene but there were no reports of casualties. A spokesman for the company working on renovating the building said the carpenters who worked on the roof had all come out. Up to 90 members of an army unit were also deployed from a nearby base to cordon off the area and “secure valuables," Denmark's armed forces said. The building and the spire had been encased in scaffolding, which later collapsed in the fire. 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, said the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which moved into the building after Copenhagen's stock exchange left in 1974. The adjacent Christiansborg Palace has burned down on several occasions, and most recently in 1990 a fire broke out in an annex of the Danish parliament, known as Proviantgaarden. However, the Old Stock Exchange survived unscathed. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

BBC News, UK
written by Paul Kirby
Tuesday April 16, 2024

Denmark's historic old stock exchange building in the centre of Copenhagen has been engulfed by fire.

The 17th Century Børsen is one of the city's oldest buildings and onlookers gasped as its iconic dragon spire tumbled into the street below.

Culture minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said 400 years of Danish cultural heritage had gone up in flames.

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

The building, dating back to 1625, is a stone's throw from Denmark's parliament, the Folketing, housed in the old royal palace of Christiansborg castle. Danish media said the nearby square was being evacuated and the main entrance to Christiansborg was closed because of smoke.

The old stock exchange was being renovated and had been shrouded in scaffolding and protective plastic covering.

It currently houses the Danish chamber of commerce, which described the scenes on Tuesday morning as a terrible sight. Its director, Brian Mikkelsen, said as much as half of the old stock exchange had burned down but vowed that it would be rebuilt "no matter what".

Local craftsman Henrik Grage told Danish TV that it was a tragic day. "This is our Notre-Dame," he said, comparing it with the fire that engulfed the roof and spire of the cathedral in the centre of Paris almost exactly five years ago.

The Paris fire broke out under the eaves of Notre-Dame on 15 April 2019 when it was also shrouded in scaffolding as part of extensive renovations. Investigators have blamed either a short circuit in the electrics or a worker's cigarette butt that was not properly put out.

The cause of the fire in Copenhagen is also for the moment unknown but emergency services said the scaffolding made their operation more difficult. Officials said the fire was most intense around the tower.

One of the craftsmen replacing brickwork on the building saw the fire break out on the roof while he was on the scaffolding. Ole Hansen said he shouted to his colleagues they needed to get down and that he left the door unlocked for firemen to get in.

Fire department chief Jakob Vedsted Andersen said firefighters faced an almost impossible task 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 was burned out.

"Furniture, floor partitions and everything that could burn has been affected by the fire," he said.

"I'm completely speechless - this is an unparalleled tragedy," one onlooker told Danish media.

Members of the public joined emergency services as well as the head of the chamber of commerce in rushing into the building to save the Børsen building's substantial art collection.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen spoke of "terrible images" and of a piece of Danish history going up in flames.

Local museum inspector Benjamin Asmussen told Denmark's TV2 that the fire was difficult to watch, as the old stock exchange was filled with paintings of Danes who had played important roles since the 17th Century.

Camilla Jul Bastholm from Denmark's National Museum said that several hundred works had been rescued and taken into storage under escort. Among the prized works rescued was an 1895 portrait by PS Krøyer of 50 Danish men of commerce standing inside the building in their top hats. Ornate chandeliers, mirrors and some clocks were also recovered.

King Frederik X said the fire was a "sad sight" for such an important part of Denmark's cultural heritage: its characteristic dragon spire had helped define Copenhagen. He succeeded Queen Margrethe II in January and events for her 84th birthday planned on Tuesday were being toned down because of the fire.

The Dutch Renaissance-style building on the city's Slotsholmen, or palace island, was commissioned by Denmark's King Christian IV with the aim of turning Copenhagen into a major trading centre.

The famous spire featured four dragons whose tails were twisted into a spear and three crowns, symbolising close ties with neighbours Norway and Sweden.
I added picture of the Iconic 4 dragon-tail spire to this post.

Associated Press
written by Jan M. Olsen
Tuesdasy April 16, 2024

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A fire raged through one of Copenhagen’s oldest buildings Tuesday, destroying about half of the 17th-century Old Stock Exchange and collapsing its iconic dragon-tail spire, as passersby rushed to help emergency services save priceless paintings and other valuables.

The blaze broke out on the building’s roof during renovations, but police said it was too early to pinpoint the cause. The red-brick building, with its green copper roof and distinctive 56-meter (184-foot) spire in the shape of four intertwined dragon tails, is a major tourist attraction next to Denmark’s parliament, Christiansborg Palace, in the heart of the capital.

Bells tolled and sirens sounded as fire engulfed the spire and sent it crashing onto the building, which was shrouded by scaffolding. Huge billows of smoke rose over downtown Copenhagen and could be seen from southern Sweden, which is separated from the Danish capital by a narrow waterway.

”A piece of Danish history is on fire,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote on Instagram, saying that it hurt to see the loss of such “irreplaceable cultural heritage.”

Ambulances were at the scene but there were no reports of casualties.

Firefighters, who reportedly pumped water from a nearby canal, sprayed water through the doorway of the Old Stock Exchange’s gilded hall that is used for gala dinners, conferences and other events and where many paintings were on display.

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 to help soon after the fire broke out, and members of the public helped first responders to carry huge works of art to safety.

Among the pieces that had been on display in the building was a huge painting completed in 1895 by Danish artist P.S. Krøyer called, “From Copenhagen Stock Exchange.” No information has been released about which works of art were saved from the blaze, although video footage appeared to show the Krøyer painting being removed.

Brian Mikkelsen, chief of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which is headquartered in the Old Stock Exchange and owns the building, was seen with his staff scrolling through a binder of photos of paintings to be saved. Works were carried to the nearby parliament and national archive building. Rescuers used crowbars and other tools to remove valuables and save them from the fire, Mikkelsen said.

“We have been able to rescue a lot,” a visibly moved Mikkelsen told reporters. “It is a national disaster.”

Jakob Vedsted Andersen, a Greater Copenhagen Fire Department spokesman, said the fire began on the roof Tuesday morning and quickly spread, collapsing parts of the roof and destroying about half of the building. He said no other buildings were at risk but that it could take firefighters 24 hours to secure the scene.

Tim Ole Simonsen, another fire department spokesman, said “the fire started in the part of the building where work has been going on, but that’s all I can say about it.”

René Hansen of the coppersmith company that was renovating the roof told broadcaster TV2 it had 10 people on the roof when the fire alarm went off.

“After five minutes, smoke began to rise from the floor to the ceiling,” Hansen said.

Tommy Laursen of the Copenhagen police said it was too early to say what caused the fire and that officers would be able to enter the building in “a few days.”

Up to 90 members of an army unit were deployed to cordon off the area and “secure valuables,” Denmark’s armed forces said.

King Frederik wrote on Instagram that “an important part of our architectural heritage” was being destroyed. “This morning we woke up to a sad sight,” he wrote.

The exchange was built in 1615 and is considered a leading example of Dutch Renaissance style in Denmark. The Chamber of Commerce moved into the building after Copenhagen’s stock exchange left in 1974.

The roof, masonry, sandstone and spire were being renovated, and Mikkelsen said there had been plans for the royal family, government officials and other dignitaries review the work later this year.

“That won’t happen now,” he said.

The future of the structure was unclear, but Engel-Schmidt, the culture minister, wrote on the social platform X that he would do everything he could “so that the dragon spire will once again tower over Copenhagen,” describing it as “a symbol of Denmark’s strong history as a trading nation.”

The adjacent Christiansborg Palace has burned down several times, and in 1990 a fire broke out in an annex of the Danish parliament, known as Proviantgaarden but the Old Stock Exchange was unscathed.

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

Queen Margrethe, who turned 84 Tuesday, toned down the celebrations because of the fire, broadcaster TV2 said. A band with the Royal Life Guard had been scheduled to play for the former monarch outside the Fredensborg Castle, where she is staying for the spring and summer, but that was canceled.

The fire in Copenhagen was reminiscent of a April 2019 blaze at Notre Dame. The 800-year-old cathedral in Paris also lost its spire. Its restoration is slated for completion this year. In November 1992, soldiers and workers scrambled to save priceless works of art when Windsor Castle in England was consumed in flames. That fire destroyed the state dining room and other parts of Queen Elizabeth II’s weekend home.

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