Residents of Taman Pertama here were rudely awakened from their sleep early yesterday by a raging fire at a house on Jalan Hala Bekor 2.
Neighbours who watched anxiously as firemen hosed down the burning house were shocked to learn that the fire had claimed the life of a 26-year-old woman.
Police have classified the case as sudden death pending a report from the Fire and Rescue Department.
However, several neighbours claimed that they had seen a man rush out of the house compound and leave in a car before the 2am fire yesterday which also left two people injured.
Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Sum Chang Keong said the deceased was identified as Lai Yee Leng (pic).
"There were two others in the house at the time - a 66-year-old man and another woman, aged 36.
"The man suffered burns on the leg. Both victims remained unconscious due to smoke inhalation at the intensive care unit of the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital," he said.
The injured are believed to be Liew Miyo from Tanah Hitam, Chemor, and Thor Siew Leng of Menglembu here.
Ipoh fire station chief P. Samasuvam said 20 firemen in three fire engines rushed to the scene within eight minutes of receiving a call at 2.06am.
"Our team had to break down the back door to rescue the victims," he said, adding that only the living room of the double-storey terrace house was on fire.
Later in the morning, firemen were seen removing a container, a broken hammer and a screwdriver from the scene of the fire.
It is learned that the firemen had also collected samples of a chemical residue along the sliding door of the house.
According to one neighbour, both women had been renting the house for the past three years.
"We normally see them leaving at around 5pm in taxis or in cars driven by different men and returning between 1am and 2am," said the neighbour, who declined to be identified.
When met at the hospital mortuary, the deceased's father, Lai Charm Chor, told reporters that Yee Leng moved out of their home in Taman Cempaka a few years ago.
The 66-year-old father said Thor was Yee Leng's best friend but he did not know Liew.
"My daughter never told us her problems or if she was in any kind of trouble.
"She used to be a cashier at a pub but she changed jobs recently, I think as a clerk in a factory," he said, adding that his daughter last visited him a few days ago.