The historic Copenhagen Stock Exchange in Denmark is on fire

Comment on the photo, The fire engulfed the historic Dragon Tower, which then collapsed

Fire gutted the old Denmark Stock Exchange building in central Copenhagen.

The 17th-century Børsen Building is one of the oldest buildings in the city and onlookers gasped as the famous Dragon Tower collapsed in the flames.

Everyone who was inside the building was able to leave and people rushed to save some of its historical paintings.

Culture Minister Jacob Engel-Schmidt said that 400 years of Danish cultural heritage had been burned.

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

The old stock exchange was being renovated and was covered with scaffolding and protective plastic sheets. It currently houses the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which described Tuesday morning's scenes as a horrific scene.

Local craftsman Henrik Graj told Danish television that it was a tragic day. “This is our Notre Dame,” he said, comparing it to the fire that engulfed the roof and tower of the cathedral in central Paris nearly five years ago.

Video explanation, Watch the moment the tower collapsed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange

The Paris fire broke out under the eaves of Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019 when it was also covered by scaffolding as part of extensive renovation work. Investigators blamed either an electrical short or a worker's cigarette butt that had not been properly extinguished.

The cause of the fire in Copenhagen is still unknown, but emergency services said scaffolding made their operation more difficult. Much of the building is believed to have been severely damaged by the fire, which officials say was most intense around its tower.

One of the craftsmen who was replacing the bricks in the building saw the fire break out on the roof while he was on the scaffolding. Ole Hansen said he shouted to his colleagues and told them to get down, leaving the door open for firefighters to enter.

Fire Chief Jacob Fedsted Andersen said firefighters faced an almost impossible task to reach the area under the old copper roof.

A bystander told Danish media: “I am completely speechless. This is an unparalleled tragedy.”

Members of the public joined emergency services, as well as Chamber of Commerce director Brian Mikkelsen, in rushing to the building to rescue the Burson Building's large art collection.

Comment on the photo, Among the works rescued was Peder Severin Krøyer's oil painting from the Copenhagen Stock Exchange

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen spoke of “horrific images” and of a piece of Danish history going up in flames.

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

The fire chief said that all paintings and other items of value that could have been salvaged have been taken out. Among the precious works rescued was an 1895 portrait by PS Krøyer of fifty Danish merchantmen standing inside the building wearing their top hats.

King Frederik He succeeded Queen Margaret II in January, and celebrations for her 84th birthday scheduled for Tuesday were cut short due to the fire.

The Dutch Renaissance-style building on Slotholmen, or Palace Island, was commissioned by King Christian IV of Denmark with the aim of turning Copenhagen into a major commercial centre.

The famous tower includes four dragons with tails twisted in the shape of a spear and three crowns, symbolizing the close relations with neighbors Norway and Sweden.

Image source, Roberto Fortuna, National Museum

Comment on the photo, National Museum photographer Roberto Fortuna took a photo of one of the dragons at the foot of the tower last Friday

Image source, Ida Marie Odgaard/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Comment on the photo, Onlookers were stunned when the flames took hold of the historic building

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