Watch: Fire engulfs Copenhagen’s old stock exchange in ‘Notre-Dame moment’

A major fire broke out at Copenhagen’s old stock exchange on Tuesday morning, causing the twirled spire that has been an integral part of the Danish capital’s skyline to collapse.

Jakob Vedsted Andersen, a fire service spokesman, said: “The extinguishing work is very difficult”, adding that firefighters could not enter parts of the building because it was too dangerous.

Smoke from the blaze was visible from as far away as the Swedish city of Malmo, across the Oresund Strait made famous by the crime series The Bridge.

Police, who blocked off areas of the city centre as part of the firefighting efforts, said there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Video footage from the scene showed people including Brian Mikkelsen, the head of the chamber of commerce, carrying large paintings away from the building.

The 17th-century Børsen, located a stone’s throw from the Danish Folketing Parliament and Christiansborg Royal Palace, is one of the city’s oldest buildings. It had been under renovation when the fire broke out.

The blaze, falling on its 400th anniversary, has been compared to the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris while it was being renovated five years ago.

Troels Lund Poulsen, the Danish defence minister, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Horrible pictures from the Bourse. So sad. An iconic building that means a lot to all of us ... Our own Notre-Dame moment.”

The 184ft spire featured four dragons, with crowns representing the ties between Denmark and its close neighbours Sweden and Norway. Onlookers gasped as it collapsed onto the street below.

Klavs Lockwood, a local resident who helped to rescue national artefacts from the fire, said: “I saw the tower topple over. It fell like a tree being felled. It was violent. This is Notre-Dame in Denmark. For us, this is just as big a disaster.”

When the fire broke out on Tuesday morning, several carpenters were still working on the roof and had to be rescued.

The scaffolding around the building made it harder for emergency services to reach the flames, while the structure’s copper roof held the heat, the Copenhagen fire department said.

Firefighters work at the scene
Firefighters work at the scene - Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix
Locals watched in horror as the building burned
Locals watched in horror as the building burned - EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Jens Kastvig, a fire safety expert, said workers often covered fire alarms during dusty work to prevent false alarms.

As the blaze continued to rage inside the building on Tuesday, there was reportedly a loud bang, with Berlingske, a Danish broadsheet, reporting that a section must have collapsed.

The Dutch Renaissance-style building no longer houses the stock exchange but serves as headquarters for the Danish chamber of commerce. It hosts a collection of paintings of important Danes dating from the 17th century.

One of the paintings rescued was Peder Severin Kroyer’s From Copenhagen Stock Exchange, a monumental 1895 oil on canvas group portrait that depicts 50 of the most powerful traders of the time.

The chamber of commerce wrote on X: “We are met by a terrible sight. The Bourse is on fire.” In a post on the social media network, Morten Langager, the Børsen director, wrote: “We are currently working on saving everything that can be saved.”

Jakob Engel-Schmidt, the Danish culture minister, said it was “touching” that passers-by were helping emergency workers “save art treasures and iconic images from the burning building”. He added: “400 years of Danish cultural heritage in flames.”

Peder Severin Kroyer's From Copenhagen Stock Exchange was among the artefacts saved from the fire
Peder Severin Kroyer's From Copenhagen Stock Exchange was among the artefacts saved from the fire - Twitter

It is likely to take 24 hours or more to fully extinguish the blaze, according to fire services.

Jakob Vedsted Andersen, the emergency manager at Hovedstadens Beredskab, said: “The fire in Børsen has been so extensive that large parts of Børsen are burned out. The fire damage in there is irreparable.”

Furniture, floor separations and everything that could burn had been destroyed, he said, with emergency services working to keep the outer walls and facade intact.

A large proportion of valuables have been saved. Camilla Jul Bastholm, the unit manager for storage at the National Museum, said: “We have secured several hundred works of art from Børsen. They have been brought to the National Museum’s warehouse with a police escort because of the large amount of value.”

In a message on Instagram, King Frederik, Denmark’s recently-crowned monarch, said that “an important part of our architectural cultural heritage was and continues to be in flames”.

Leif Hansen, the architect behind the restoration, told local media: “This shouldn’t have happened. It is the 400th anniversary of this fantastic building, which has never burned down. I can hardly stand it.’”