Fire has destroyed a downtown Whitehorse coffee shop and adjacent furniture store.

The Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters on Fourth Ave. burned to the ground Tuesday night in a fire that firefighters believe may have started in The Nest, a used-furniture store in the building next to the coffee shop.

Fire crews were at the scene of the fire in minutes, but say the intensity of the blaze meant there was little they could do but contain it.

"When the crew arrived there was smoke showing from various parts of the building," says Whitehorse fire chief Clive Sparks. "They entered into the furniture store of the building down into the basement and found fire down in there and were unable to attack it due to the amount of fire, heat and the smoke. So they had to quickly back out.

"We really just had what we call a defensive fire where we fight the fire from the outside. We cannot get into the building to deal with it."

One firefighter was sent to hospital for a checkup after breathing smoke, while another was sent home with a pulled muscle.

Several roads in the area have been closed, including Fourth Ave. a major downtown artery.

There's no word on the cause of the fire.

The Midnight Sun was a well-known centre for the arts in the territorial capital, and its funky, off-beat character had been written up in several national publications.