Fire rages through one of Copenhagen's oldest buildings, toppling iconic spire

The building, which is situated next to the Christiansborg Palace where the parliament sits, is a popular tourist attraction.

Watch as the spire collapses and artwork is rescued to the horror of passersby

A fire has raged through one of Copenhagen’s oldest buildings on Tuesday, causing the collapse of the iconic spire from the 17th-century Old Stock Exchange.

Passersby rushed to help emergency services save priceless paintings and other valuables.

Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt said it was “touching” to see how many people lent their hand “to save art treasures and iconic images” from the burning building, which was erected in the 1620s.

One man jumped off his bicycle on his way to work to help in the effort.

Smoke rises out of the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen. / Credit: AP

Brian Mikkelsen, chief of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which is headquartered in the Old Stock Exchange, and his staff were seen scrolling through a binder with photos of paintings to be saved.

They were carried to the nearby parliament and Danish National Archives, around the corner from the burning building.

“It is a national disaster,” Mikkelsen told reporters.

The fire began Tuesday morning in the copper roof of the Old Stock Exchange, or Boersen, spread to much of the building and the roof, parts of which also collapsed, and destroyed the building’s interior, said firefighters spokesman Jakob Vedsted Andersen.

The building was erected in the 1620s. / Credit: AP

Firefighters who reportedly pumped water from the nearby canal were seen spraying water through the doorway of the Old Stock Exchange’s gilded hall that is used for gala dinners, conferences, parties and other events and where many of the paintings hung.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The building, which is situated next to the Christiansborg Palace where the parliament sits, is a popular tourist attraction and has been photographed millions of times.

Its distinctive spire, in the shape of the tails of four dragons twined together, reached a height of 56 meters.

Huge billows of smoke rose over downtown Copenhagen and people were seen rushing inside the building to save paintings.

A passerby reacts to the loss of one of Copenhagen’s oldest buildings. / Credit: AP

The plume could be seen from southern Sweden, which is separated by a narrow waterway.

Ambulances were at the scene but there were no reports of casualties.

A spokesman for the company working on renovating the building said the carpenters who worked on the roof had all come out.

Up to 90 members of an army unit were also deployed from a nearby base to cordon off the area and “secure valuables,” Denmark’s armed forces said.

King Frederik wrote on Instagram that “they woke up to a sad sight” of “an important part of our architectural heritage” being destroyed by the flames.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote that “irreplaceable cultural heritage” and ”a piece of Danish history is on fire… It hurts to see.”

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