Police have found elements of foul play behind a fire which gutted a double-storey shophouse in Taman Bukit Indah here yesterday morning, killing two women. (NSTP/Pic courtesy from Fire and Rescue Department)

JOHOR BARU: Police have found elements of foul play behind a fire which gutted a double-storey shophouse in Taman Bukit Indah here yesterday morning, killing two women.

Iskandar Puteri police chief Assistant Commissioner Dzulkhairi Mukhtar said closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the hardware shop showed an unidentified man carrying a plastic bottle believed to contain flammable liquid near the premises.

The fire, police said, started from the back of the premises, near a ground floor grille door which firemen had broke open when they entered the shophouse to 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 two victims, a woman in her sixties and her niece in her twenties, were part of a family of five affected by the fire.

Both women died in the blaze, while the other family members comprising the older victim's son aged 44, his wife aged 40 and his six-year-old son were taken to Hospital Sultanah Aminah here for treatment.

The department received a distress call at 4.34am and deployed a team of 28 personnel from the Iskandar Puteri, Larkin and Skudai fire stations to the scene.

Dzulkhairi said the case was being investigated under Section 436 of the Penal Code for mischief by fire or explosive substance.

He added that the forensic units of both the police and Fire and Rescue Department were working together at the scene to look for clues.

The premises, which had been rented since 2013, included living quarters on the first floor comprising two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and paint storeroom. -- Bernama