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Denmark vows to restore gutted landmark

Stock Exchange blaze likened to Notre-Dame fire

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-19 00:26

This file photo taken on April 16 shows a view of rising smoke at the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, after a fire broke out in the morning, in Copenhagen, Denmark. [Photo/Agencies]

The city and district mayors of the Danish capital Copenhagen have issued a joint statement saying that one of the city's most famous landmarks, the Old Stock Exchange, will be restored to its full glory after a devastating fire.

No cause has yet been given for the inferno that engulfed the 400-year-old building earlier this week while it was undergoing restoration work.

City mayor Sophie Haestorp Andersen and six district mayors issued a statement saying the city "could not do without the Stock Exchange" and pledging to work together to restore it.

Brian Mikkelsen, director of the Danish chamber of commerce, which was based in the building that was used as a stock exchange until 1974, offered his organization's full support, saying it would be rebuilt "no matter what", and calling the fire "a national disaster".

"This is part of the story of the building of our city", added Andersen, "and, therefore, we will do everything we can to rebuild this".

"They are simply such sad pictures," said Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as the fire burned. "It is a piece of Danish history that burns before our eyes. I think it gave us all a jolt when the spire fell."

Mads Damsbo, head of the adjoining Christiansborg Palace, which houses the Danish Parliament, said the flames were "like an oven".

"It is built mainly in wood, all the roof is made of wood, and it's not a particularly tall building but with a huge roof," he added. "That itself makes the building vulnerable to fire. The firefighters couldn't get into the fire."

The building's distinctive dragon's tail spire, which was believed to have protected it during two previous blazes at the neighboring palace, was lost in scenes reminiscent of the fire that destroyed the roof of the Notre-Dame cathedral in the French capital, Paris, five years earlier.

Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen called it "an iconic building that means a lot to all of us ... Our own Notre-Dame moment".

Problems faced by the dozens of firefighters who attended the scene included getting access, because of restoration scaffolding, and the fact that the building's copper roof meant water used by firefighters flowed straight off.

There were no injuries reported in the fire at the building, which was not open to the public but that hosted conferences and events.

It was famed for its art collection, and many employees and passers-by entered the building to take part in spontaneous rescues of paintings and objects, but it is believed some priceless artworks were damaged by the water used to put out the flames.

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