UPDATE: The museum reopened at 10am on Thursday morning.

Police have launched an investigation into suspected arson attack at a Southampton museum.

Officers are appealing for witnesses after a fire broke out at the SeaCity Museum, on Havelock Road, on Tuesday afternoon.

Police are also investigating a burglary at the museum after cash was stolen from the cafe till during an evacuation due to the fire.

Dozens of visitors and staff members were evacuated after smoke was spotted coming from the first floor of the building – home to Southampton’s Titanic Story exhibition.

When firefighters arrived at the scene shortly before 12.30pm the building had already been evacuated.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it involved a “wooden model” and no-one was injured in the incident.

Tony Deacon, group commander for Southampton fire stations, said: “Members of the public were evacuated very quickly by members of staff. I’d like to place on record my thanks to the SeaCity museum staff for efficiently evacuating the building. ”

City councillor Satvir Kaur said: “It looks like there isn’t any major structural damage but there is an ongoing investigation.

“There’s been some damage but not to the major artefacts in the exhibition.”

Cllr Kaur added: “Because the SeaCity team and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services responded so fast it has ensured everyone is safe.”

Lisa Lasky, service lead for art and heritage at SeaCity museum, said: “The SeaCity team were very professional and efficient and everybody was out of the building in minutes. I am very proud of the team.”

Firefighters from Hampshire Fire HQ, St Mary’s and Hightown attended the scene.

During the day tourists continued arriving at the museum, unaware of the incident.

Goran Schubert, 63, from Sweden and his wife Magdalena came to Southampton to visit the SeaCity museum.

He said: “We came here because we wanted to visit the museum but when we arrived we saw the fire engines. We asked if we could visit the museum but they said no.”

Jenny Wieland, 31, a hotel operation manager, said: “We are here for the Robbie Williams concert and we had hoped to visit the museum.”

Anyone with information, or saw anything suspicious in the museum at the time is urged to call police on 101 quoting reference '44170214076', or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.