Owner says Denmark's treasured stock exchange will be rebuilt after fire

By Stine Jacobsen and Isabelle Yr Carlsson

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Denmark's Old Stock Exchange will be rebuilt after the devastating fire that destroyed half the building and damaged the rest, the owner of the Copenhagen landmark said on Wednesday.

Tuesday's blaze that ripped through the 400-year-old building, toppling its spire in a scene reminiscent of the 2019 fire at Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral, was still burning in some hard-to-access places more than 24 hours later.

As the flaming spire slammed into the ground, its ornamented metal tip that had sat 52 metres (179 feet) above street level was recovered and will eventually resume its rightful place, said the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which owns the building.

"At six o'clock this morning I met a fireman who gave me this...the top of the stock exchange," Chamber CEO Brian Mikkelsen told Reuters, holding the metal piece in the air.

"It gives me hope because we have decided to rebuild the stock exchange because it's part of European history as a trading continent," he said.

Mikkelsen declined to comment on the building's insurance policy. The building no longer houses the stock exchange but serves as the Chamber of Commerce headquarters.

A smell of burning hung in the air on Wednesday while fire fighters on a crane flushed water down into the building through the collapsed roof as smoke still rose from the debris.

A bouquet of sunflowers had been laid in front of the building, which had been undergoing extensive restoration when the fire broke out.

Police investigating the incident said it could take months to determine the cause. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Roughly half the Dutch Renaissance-style building was saved, although massive damage still occurred as fire fighters had drenched it in water.

"Everything that was once part of the storey partitions and building structures inside has been burnt away," Copenhagen fire department Operations Chief Frank Trier Mikkelsen told Reuters, referring to the part of the building worst hit.

"Only the outer walls remain, leaving an empty shell."

The loss of the 17th century landmark was a sad moment for the capital, teacher Eva Simoni Lomholdt, 58, told Reuters.

"My first thought was I hope that they rebuild it, it's never going to be the same but it's iconic to Copenhagen and Denmark".

Emergency services were joined by passers-by on Tuesday in carrying paintings away from the building shortly after the fire broke out in a race to save historic artefacts from the flames.

"When the building was on fire yesterday we were saving almost all of the valuables in there. Things that were 300-400 years old and part of our national heritage," the chamber's Mikkelsen said.

Employees and firefighters knew what to get out as they already had a "worst case" emergency plan in place, he said.

Putting out the fire was taking longer than expected due to lingering pockets of flames found in the rubble and the work was expected to last at least until Thursday morning.

Large containers were being stacked to support damaged walls and prevent the historic brickwork from collapsing.

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, Isabelle Yr Carlsson and Alison Withers, editing by Terje Solsvik and Angus MacSwan)