A fire that destroyed a house in Dawson City this week has reinforced calls for an emergency 911 system in the town.

A passerby saved a resident in the burning home by breaking the windows to help him escape. 

But Dawson City's Fire Chief Jim Regimbal says crews could have been on the scene much sooner.

Regimbal says the man who discovered the fire wasn't a Dawson resident and didn't know how to contact the fire department.

"They went to the neighbour's house, opened the door and yelled, 'There is a house on fire next door, dial 911.'"

Regimbal says visitors were living at the artists' residence next door. They tried to dial 911.

"They didn't know the emergency numbers to try and get hold of the fire department and were a little frustrated that 911 wasn't working," he said.

Regimbal has, for many years, led a lobby group advocating for a Yukon-wide 911 service.