Chinese prayer shop in Johor Baru goes up in smoke

JOHOR BARU - A Chinese prayer shop with new merchandise went up in smoke in a fire in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah.

The owner, known as Tan, said he could only watch in horror as "deities", prayer notes, religious oil and other items were razed at around 9am yesterday.

"A car wash outlet owner saw thick smoke billowing from the shop and called me," he said. "I got there in five minutes, but the building was already on fire," he told reporters outside the shop in Jalan Perkasa 4 here.

Tan, who claimed he lost over RM200,000, said he had recently brought in new stock of prayer items and these included statues of deities, which cost between RM1,000 and RM3,000 each.

"With the help of neighbours I tried to douse the flames with buckets of water but we could not," he said, adding that several explosions were also heard at the height of the fire.

Fire and Rescue Department OpeĀ­rations chief Azmi Mohd Bani said two fire engines with 10 personnel arrived at the scene at about 9.12am.

"However, most of the building was already engulfed in flames as the shop contained a lot of flammable materials.

"We managed to stop the fire from spreading to nearby shops half an hour later," he said.

Azmi said the authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire and did not rule out the possibility that it might be due to short circuit.