‘This is our landmark!’ Fire engulfs Copenhagen’s iconic old financial center

A blaze has broken out in Copenhagen’s historic former stock exchange in Denmark’s capital on Tuesday, as its roof and collapsed.

The fire began in the morning, starting in the copper roof of the Old Stock Exchange. The 17th century Børsen—one of the Danish capital’s oldest buildings—is now used as a headquarters for the Danish Chamber of Commerce. “We are met with a terrible sight. The Bourse is on fire. Everyone is asked to stay away,” the Chamber of Commerce said on its social media platform X.

The blaze has since spread across several floors of the monument and caused its roof to cave in, according to local reporter Jakob Vedsted Andersen.

As many as 90 members of the Royal Life Guards, an army unit, have been deployed to cordon off the area surrounding the building, as well as secure valuables, the military has said. There are no reports of injuries or fatalities at this time, and the finance ministry has been evacuated.

The 184 ft. spire had a distinct design in the shape of four intertwined dragons’ tails, a symbol of protection, as per tourism websites. The tails twist into a spear with three crowns, representing Denmark’s strong ties with Sweden and Norway. The structure had been undergoing renovations and was surrounded by scaffolding at the time of the fire, which limited ease of access for emergency responders.

The building—which dates back to 1625—is home to a number of Denmark’s valuable art collections, which are worth hundreds of millions of Danish Krones (tens of millions of U.S. dollars). People were seen carrying some of these works of art out of the building. It is frequently used to host dinners and conferences, but it is not open to the public.

Denmark’s culture minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt described the scenes as “400 years of Danish cultural heritage in flames,” in interviews. In a statement, he said it was “touching” to see employees, emergency workers, and good samaritans working together to rescue its treasures.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Troels Lund Poulsen described the incident as Denmark’s “own Notre Dame moment,” referencing the 2019 structural fire that broke out in the roof of the cathedral.

That sentiment was echoed by others. “This is our Notre-Dame! This is a national treasure,” 45-year-old local resident Elisabeth Moltke, told reporters as she watched the blaze.

The Notre Dame fire marked its fifth anniversary on Monday, and is set to reopen at the end of this year after well-funded restoration efforts.

Danish emergency services have advised people in Copenhagen to keep away from the blaze, avoid driving to the inner city, and seek medical assistance if they experience any breathing difficulties.