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Iconic 19th century building gutted in Stockholm fire

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Iconic 19th century building gutted in Stockholm fire
Firefighters at the scene. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
12:00 CET+01:00
Fire crews were unable to save a burning building in one of Stockholm's poshest districts, despite 60-70 firefighters battling the flames for hours.

The blaze in central Stockholm started at around 5 am on Tuesday and the first fire service unit reached the scene only seven minutes later, reported Swedish news agency TT.

On Wednesday morning the fire was under control but still not fully extinguished, with around a dozen firefighters at the scene putting out burning embers.


Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The building houses companies and nine apartments. Nobody was seriously injured in the blaze, but two people were treated for smoke inhalation and four evacuated the building.

The fire service said on Wednesday that the risk of the entire building collapsing – mainly as a result of the weight of the water used to put out the flames – had decreased, but would not rule it out completely.


Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The building, located on Jakobsbergsgatan 6/Biblioteksgatan 9 near Stockholm's clubbing hotspot Stureplan square, was erected between 1895 and 1897. It was designed by architect Erik Josephson, with a cladding made of sandstone from Roslagen.

Josephson drew inspiration from contemporary Britain as well as medieval architecture, The building is considered culturally and historically important, with Swedish suffragette Anna Whitlock opening women-owned cooperative store Svenska Hem there in 1905.

Buildings from the late 19th century are usually structurally robust, so they do not collapse easily, but their inner walls and beams are often made of wood, flammable and difficult to reach.

"From a fire safety point of view it is no more dangerous to live in an apartment in an old building than in a modern building. But major fires can be difficult to put out," Lars Brodin, fire engineer at a Swedish fire safety association (Brandskyddsföreningen), told TT.


Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Most of the quarter was built in the second half of the 19th century, turning a previously fairly sparsely populated area into one of Stockholm's most exclusive shopping areas.

Clothing giant H&M had been planning to open its new concept store Arket in the burned-out building in spring, and said it was too early to tell if it would affect the opening date.

It is not yet known what caused the fire.

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