Yellowknife's fire chief believes arson caused a fire at the downtown Northern United Place complex on Tuesday afternoon, forcing the brief evacuation of Aurora College students.
Firefighters arrived at the Franklin Avenue building shortly before 2:30pm, accompanied by municipal enforcement vehicles and an ambulance. John Fredericks, the city's fire chief, said eight firefighters worked on a fire in a garbage chute.
"Somebody set a garbage bag on fire and put it in the garbage chute," said Fredericks.
"It went down the chute and caught the dumpster on fire in the basement."
Fredericks said nobody was injured and the fire's cause is now under RCMP investigation.
Staff members at Aurora College confirmed occupants of the college's Yellowknife campus, inside Northern United Place, were briefly evacuated – with a temperature of -35C in the city at the time.
Students spent 15 to 20 minutes at a muster point inside Mildred Hall, a school opposite Northern United Place, before returning.
Crews wrapped up their work at the building just before 4:30pm, Fredericks said.
Emelie Peacock and Sarah Pruys contributed reporting.