Huffpost WorldPost

Denmark: Sex Fair Canceled After Sports Arena Fire

Posted: Updated:
SEX FAIR FIRE
The old-listed Sports Arena KB Hallen blazes as a fire broke out in the morning of the opening of the "Erotic World Messe" in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, Sept. 28. 2011. The hall was completed in 1938 and was then Europe's largest private sports facilities. (AP Photo/POLFOTO, Jens Dresling) | AP

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A fire raced through a 73-year-old sports arena in the Danish capital Wednesday, destroying the iconic 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 K.B. Hallen arena when the blaze started, got out safely. Three people were hospitalized with smoke inhalation, but they were discharged later 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."

K.B. 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. Television footage showed that a large central part of the roof had collapsed.

Firefighters said the blaze was under control by midday.

The fire forced organizers to cancel the five-day sex fair showcasing adult movies, magazines and sex toys that had been set to open at K.B. Hallen on Wednesday. Equipment worth 3 million kroner ($546,500) was destroyed in the fire, event organizer Kenneth Strandby told the TV2 channel.

Adjacent to the arena are two soccer fields that are used by FC Copenhagen for training, 26 tennis courts and three eateries. None of them 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 relocated to another part of the city.