Scaffolding Scrutinised as Copenhagen’s Historic Stock Exchange Ravaged by Fire

Scaffolding under scrutiny after a devastating fire ravages Copenhagen's historic Old Stock Exchange. Investigators seek the cause of the blaze.

On Tuesday, a massive fire swept through Copenhagen’s historic Old Stock Exchange building (the Børsen), reducing its iconic spire to ashes. The devastating blaze has heightened concerns surrounding the use of scaffolding during historic building renovations, as the 17th-century structure was undergoing such work before the fire.

A devastating fire tore through Copenhagen’s iconic Old Stock Exchange, known as the Børsen, on Tuesday morning, collapsing its renowned spire and casting a sombre pall over the capital city of Denmark. 

The 17th-century building, a hallmark of Danish history and architecture, was tragically engulfed in flames while undergoing a renovation that involved extensive scaffolding.

As thick, black smoke billowed into the Copenhagen sky, firefighters battled the blaze, struggling against the additional hazard posed by scaffolding encasing the historic site. 

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but concerns about scaffolding’s role in building fires have been reignited. The 2019 fire that ravaged Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral under similar circumstances has been compared.

“It’s a terrible sight,” exclaimed Brian Mikkelsen, director of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which now occupies the Børsen. Passersby and emergency services joined forces with Mikkelsen to valiantly rescue precious artworks from the burning building.

Jakob Engel-Schmidt, Denmark’s culture minister, lamented the tragic loss, saying, “400 years of Danish cultural heritage have gone up in flames.” The Børsen, commissioned by King Christian IV in the 1620s, stands as a testament to the nation’s rich commercial past. Its striking spire, featuring four intertwined dragons and symbolising a historic union with Scandinavian neighbours, was a beloved landmark that succumbed to the fire’s relentless force.

Local museum inspector Benjamin Asmussen emphasised the heartbreaking loss of countless paintings within the Børsen, representing important figures throughout Denmark’s storied history.

The use of scaffolding in building restorations has once again come under intense scrutiny following this incident. As investigators work to determine the precise cause of the Copenhagen fire, the tragic inferno serves as a harsh reminder of the potential dangers that these temporary structures can present, especially when coupled with the inherent risks of construction work.