Prince George's County firefighters summoned to an apartment fire early yesterday morning in Hyattsville found the bodies of two women who apparently had been killed before the fire started, authorities said.

Hyattsville police said the deaths of Ansia Dial, 29, and her roommate, Lisa Miller, in her mid-twenties, were homicides but declined yesterday to say how the women died.

The bodies of the women were found in a bedroom of the second-story garden apartment in the Hamilton Manor complex in the 5700 block of Jamestown Road, police said. Investigators said the fire started shortly after 3 a.m. in the bedroom, which was the most heavily damaged room of the small apartment.

Maj. Daniel Jarboe termed the blaze suspicious, but said that investigators will not be able to determine the cause until they receive the results of forensic tests on materials taken from the room.

Much of the fire was trapped and spread through the floor area between the bedroom and the apartment below. Authorities estimated damage to the apartment at $30,000.

Fire investigators first suspected that the women had died of smoke inhalation. However, the results of autopsies completed shortly after noon indicated that there was no smoke in the women's lungs, a sign that they had died before the fire erupted, authorities said.

Hyattsville Police Chief Robert Perry said that the women either had been killed in the bedroom or that their bodies were placed on the bed before the fire started.

Dial had worked as the manager of a Colorfax photograph processing store until recently and was planning to start a new biology-related job in Virginia, police said. Miller was a telephone company employee, police said.

Penney Pinckney, a Colorfax employee and friend of Dial, said yesterday that several co-workers had seen televised reports of the fire at the Hamilton Manor but did not realize that Dial had been killed until much later in the day.

"Ansia and {Miller} were friends with the world," Pinckney said. "Ansia's only fault was that her heart was too big. She would give anyone anything."