KB Hallen Gutted By Fire

A fire raced through a 73-year-old sports arena in the Danish capital on Wednesday, destroying the historic building just hours before a sex fair was to open, officials said.

About 20 people involved with the erotic trade fair, who were sleeping inside the KB Hallen arena when the blaze started, got out safely.

Photo: AP Photo
Struck by fire on the morning of the opening of the "Erotic World Messe" in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Three people were admitted to hospital with smoke inhalation, but they were discharged later on Wednesday.

The blaze most likely started when overheated light bulbs set fire to nearby cardboard boxes inside the 1938 arena, police spokesman Lars-Christian Borg said.

“It has been a very violent fire,” said Lars Rosenwanger, spokesman for the firefighters. “Everything inside the arena had been destroyed by the blaze. All that’s left is the concrete construction.”

KB Hallen was the capital’s main sports, concert and exhibition facility for decades, hosting several international tennis and badminton tournaments, boxing matches, concerts and exhibitions.

Tennis greats including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Boris Becker played in the arena.  Louis Armstrong, the Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed there.

“It is a disaster. It has been a gathering point for all of Copenhagen,” arena director Joergen Hansen said.

For several hours, thick smoke billowed from roof of the arena, forming a large plume that was visible over most of Copenhagen. TV footage showed that a large central part of the roof had collapsed.

Firefighters said the blaze was under control by midday.

The fire forced organisers to cancel the five-day sex fair showcasing adult movies, magazines and sex toys that had been set to open at KB Hallen on Wednesday. Equipment worth three million kroner (about $550,000) was destroyed in the fire, event organiser Kenneth Strandby told the TV2 channel.

Photo: AP Photo
Copenhagen, Denmark.

Next to the arena are two soccer fields used by FC Copenhagen for training, 26 tennis courts and three eateries. None were affected by the fire, police said.

The arena was named after Koebenhavns Boldklub, one of Europe’s first soccer clubs, founded in 1876. In 1992, it merged with rival team Boldklubben 1903 to become FC Copenhagen, which has moved to another part of the city.