A pile of boxes in an empty pub were set alight deliberately, fire investigators believe.
Two ﬁre crews, including nine ﬁreﬁghters and a senior officer from Southsea, were called to The Farmhouse, in Burrﬁelds Road, Portsmouth, last night.
They discovered a large pile of boxes had been set on fire in the restaurant side of the pub which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment.
It was under control within 20 minutes but there was smoke damage to the building.
A joint police and fire service arson investigation has been launched.
Southsea watch manager Ian Jeffrey, said: ‘Luckily, because it was all open and there was not a lot of furniture in there, it was contained to some boxes that were set alight. There was no risk of it spreading through the property. But If it was a working restaurant it would have been a whole different story.’
Firefighters were called just after 7.30pm and staff in the hotel side were evacuated before they arrived.
Mr Jeffrey added: ‘The police were called and we handed it over to scenes of crime officers and the fire investigation team.
‘It does look like someone did it deliberately.’
Hampshire Constabulary said that the ﬁre happened in the restaurant area.
Police were called at 8.20pm to investigate the cause and spent several hours there.