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Historic Copenhagen building smolders for third day as facade collapses

Half of the 17th-century Borsen building was destroyed and its 54-metre (180-foot) spire tumbled to the ground in the fire that broke out early Tuesday, in scenes that shocked Denmark
Half of the 17th-century Borsen building was destroyed and its 54-metre (180-foot) spire tumbled to the ground in the fire that broke out early Tuesday, in scenes that shocked Denmark - Copyright Ritzau Scanpix/AFP Ida Marie Odgaard
Half of the 17th-century Borsen building was destroyed and its 54-metre (180-foot) spire tumbled to the ground in the fire that broke out early Tuesday, in scenes that shocked Denmark - Copyright Ritzau Scanpix/AFP Ida Marie Odgaard
Camille BAS-WOHLERT

The facade of Copenhagen’s historic former stock exchange collapsed Thursday, rescue services said, as work to put out the last of the flames continued for a third day.

Half of the 17th-century Borsen building was destroyed and its 54-metre (180-foot) spire tumbled to the ground in the fire that broke out early Tuesday, in scenes that shocked Denmark.

“Unfortunately, there has been a collapse of the facade,” Copenhagen’s rescue service said in a post to X, formerly Twitter, Thursday afternoon.

They added that all workers had been evacuated from the scene and no injures were reported.

“There is a continued risk of collapse of the rest of the face of Borsen,” Tim Ole Simonsen, leader of the operation at the rescue services, told a press conference.

Live video from the scene showed a wall quickly collapsing in on itself, as smoke continued to rise up from the badly burnt building.

Containers had already been placed around the building in an attempt to support the structure, but officials said they had been unable to anchor them to the structure.

“We had really hoped that we could save the facades of this old building, but unfortunately we haven’t managed to get the anchoring in place,” director of emergency services Jakob Vedsted Andersen told a press conference.

Earlier in the day, the city’s rescue service said that extinguishing work was continuing.

“We have extinguished a few small fires in the building, primarily in the basement,” rescue services wrote on X.

– ‘Complicated process’ –

Police said several streets around the building would remain inaccessible until Monday.

The fire began under the copper roof of the building, which was undergoing renovations ahead of its 400th anniversary.

The cause of the blaze was unknown and Copenhagen police said Wednesday that a major investigation had been launched.

“It is a complicated process and it can take several months before we can reach an answer,” police said in a statement.

As one of the capital’s oldest and best-known landmarks, the Borsen building housed the Danish Chamber of Commerce as well as a vast art collection.

Several hundred artworks were rescued from the fire.

Brian Mikkelsen, the director of the Danish Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday the top of the building’s iconic spire — designed to look like it was made up of the intertwined tails of four dragons — had been recovered intact.

“It gave a glimmer of hope. Because it will once again adorn our beautiful workplace and Copenhagen,” Mikkelsen said in a post to X.

Located close to the Christiansborg parliament and seat of government, the building was commissioned by King Christian IV and built between 1619 and 1640. It was the stock exchange until the 1970s.

AFP
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