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Historic Copenhagen stock exchange, one of the city's oldest buildings, goes up in flames

Fire burns Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange
Copenhagen's historic Old Stock Exchange erupts in flames, collapsing legendary spire 02:07

As Paris celebrated five years of recovery since its Notre Dame Cathedral erupted into flames, Copenhagen experienced its own blaze of tragedy at a historic building. The Danish city's old stock exchange building, which dates back to the 17th century, erupted into flames on Tuesday in what onlookers could only describe as a tragedy. 

"This is our Notre Dame," a local craftsman told Danish TV, according to CBS News partner BBC.

This photograph shows flames engulfing the Copenhagen's Stock Exchange building, in Copenhagen, on April 16, 2024. IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

The cause of the fire, which started around 7:30 a.m. local time, is not yet known and no casualties have been reported, but the flames have ravaged the historic building and several nearby streets have been closed, local media reported. The old stock exchange, otherwise known as Børsen, dates back to 1625 and is one of Copenhagen's oldest buildings, the website maintained by Danish Tourist Offices says. 

Included in the damage is the building's iconic spire, which legends say protects the building "against enemy attacks and fires," according to the tourism site. The spire, which was designed in the shape of entwined dragons' tails, stood at 184 feet tall. 

"The Old Stock Exchange has many times been mysteriously spared from damage when fires have broken out in neighbouring (sic) buildings," the site says. "Christiansborg Palace (the present-day Danish Parliament) has burnt down on several occasions, and even recently in 1990, a fire broke out in the Proviantgaarden in Slotsholmsgade (Slotholm Street). On this occasion, as before, the Old Stock Exchange survived unscathed."

Plumes of smoke billow from the historic Boersen stock exchange building which is on fire in central Copenhagen, Denmark on April 16, 2024. The building, one of the oldest in the Danish capital, was undergoing renovation work when in the morning it caught fire, whose cause was yet unknown. The building was erected in the 1620s as a commercial building by King Christian IV and is located next to the Danish parliament. EMIL HELMS/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

But on Tuesday, it fell. Video from the Associated Press shows the spire crashing down. The AP said the fire is believed to have started in the building's copper roof, much of which collapsed before the flames spread to other areas of the building. The roof was originally made of lead, but that material was removed during the 1658 Swedish siege to be used for musket balls. The copper was applied in 1883 and was in the process of being replaced with 100% recycled copper, the Danish Chamber of Commerce says. Scaffolding was present on much of the building's roof when the fire erupted. 

"This morning, we woke up to a sad sight, as smoke over the roofs of Copenhagen gave evidence of the destructive fire at Børsen," Frederik X, the king of Denmark, said in a statement on Tuesday. "An important part of our architectural cultural heritage was and continues to be in flames." 

He said Børsen has remained a "distinctive landmark of Copenhagen" for generations. 

"Until today, we have considered the historic building as a beautiful symbol of our capital and a structure that we, as a nation, have been proud of." 

People react to a fire in the historic Boersen building in central Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 16, 2024.  IDA MARIE ODGAARD/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Morten Langager, director of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, said first responders are working to save "everything that can be saved," the office said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The Associated Press captured video of people rushing to save paintings from the building.

"This is a national treasure," Elisabeth Moltke told AFP. "A lot of Danish paintings, originals are in there. I've been in there several times and it's a magnificent building so it makes me feel very emotional." 

Chamber of Commerce employee Carsten Lundberg told AFP that they're "lost for words." 

"It's a 400-year-old building that has survived all the other fires that burned Copenhagen down to the ground," they said. "It's a dreadful loss." 

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