Two women killed in fire, arson suspected

(Bernama pic)

JOHOR BAHRU: Police suspect an arsonist started a fire at a shophouse here early this morning, killing two women.

Iskandar Puteri district police chief Dzulkhairi Mukhtar said closed-circuit television footage showed an unidentified man carrying a plastic bottle believed to contain flammable liquid which could have been used to start the fire.

The two-storey building housed a shop selling paint and home appliances. The premises, which had been rented since 2013, included living quarters on the first floor comprising two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and paint store room.

Police believe the fire started from the back of the premises, near a ground floor grille which firemen broke open to enter the shophouse and put out the fire.

The liquid, believed to be oil-based, could be smelt at the back of the premises, Dzulkhairi said in a statement.

The victims were a woman in her sixties and her niece in her twenties. They were part of a family of five affected by the fire.

The other family members, comprising the older victim’s son, aged 44; his wife, aged 40; and their six-year-old son were taken to Hospital Sultanah Aminah here for treatment.

Dzulkhairi said investigations are continuing for a possible charge of mischief by fire or explosive substance under the Penal Code. A search of the scene has been undertaken by the forensic units of the police and the Fire and Rescue Department.