The former Copenhagen Stock Exchange burns and passersby help save valuable art objects. The cause of the fire is still not entirely clear.

A building on fire.

The historic Copenhagen stock exchange is on April 16. on fire Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix/Reuters

STOCKHOLM taz | They were on their way to a normal workday and ended up in the middle of a rescue mission for Danish art treasures: in Copenhagen, the city's historic monument, called “Børsen”, built in 1625, has been burning since early Tuesday morning. As shown in videos from Danish broadcaster DR. As you can see, travelers and passersby participated in the rescue of the paintings from the building. “400 years of cultural heritage in flames,” wrote Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt in X. The smoke is Swedish Aftonbladet From here you can see all the way to Malmö.

Firefighters were alerted at 7:36 a.m., and about an hour later, residents of Denmark had to witness live how the iconic steep peak on the roof of the building – a former stock exchange – that belongs to Copenhagen as the Little Mermaid, collapsed. It depicts intertwined dragon tails, with three crowns on top, representing Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The fallen monument was to symbolically protect the building against attacks and fires. Denmark's Defense Minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, posted a video of the moment on X: “Our own Notre Dame moment,” he wrote. Exactly five years ago, the Paris cathedral was on fire.

In Copenhagen, a few hours after the fire broke out, half the building burned and parts of the roof collapsed. The fire is out of control and extinguishing work is very difficult, DR quotes the head of the preparation staff in Copenhagen, Jakob Vedsted Andersen. As a big challenge, he mentioned a mix of old wooden structures and a copper roof, under which a lot of heat accumulates. “A fire like this is our biggest nightmare,” fire department operations director Frank Trier Mikkelsen told TV2 News.

120 firefighters are on duty and 90 Danish military personnel are helping to recover valuable items. The area around the Stock Exchange is cordoned off and the artisans who were still working there in the morning are safe. “Børsen” has been renovated since 2022, is equipped with scaffolding and should shine in new splendor on the 400th anniversary.

Touched by the commitment of individuals

The building now belongs to the business organization Dansk Erhverv. “One of the worst days of my life,” said its director, Brian Mikkelsen. “Our cultural and social history is on fire.” Now it's about saving what we can save and ensuring that no one gets hurt.

Both Mikkelsen and the Minister of Culture were especially moved by the efforts of individuals to remove works of art from the burning building. A spokeswoman for the National Museum also highlighted the importance of this private commitment in the midst of the disaster. Many paintings were saved. These have been wrapped in foil and stored safely since morning. You have yet to get a full description.

People carry a painting.

Firefighters and bystanders remove works of art from the burning building Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix/Reuters

“This morning we woke up to a sad sight,” Danish King Frederik wrote in a statement. He and the Queen “thanked everyone who made sure no one was hurt early in the morning and who are now fighting to save as much as possible of both the building and its many cultural treasures.”

Copenhagen Mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen told midday in the Dominican Republic: “We have to see what can be saved and how to rebuild it, because it is very important for Copenhagen. His first reaction when he heard about the fire was probably representative.” most people in Copenhagen, if not all of Denmark, should say: “This simply cannot happen.”

The cause of the fire is still unclear.