(May 7, 2014) A fire broke out in a home owned by James Blake, north of downtown Tampa, Florida. The fire was reported at 6 a.m. Firefighters found four bodies in the burning mansion owned by the former world No. 4 player. Blake does not live in the house as he rents it out.
Tampa, Florida — Four bodies have been found inside the large, million-dollar Tampa home that went up in flames Wednesday morning.
During a 5:30 p.m. press conference Wednesday, Col. Donna Lusczynski of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it took firefighters several hours to extinguish the fire as hot spots continued to pop up and the blaze kept restarting. Investigators were able to finally gain access to the inside of the mansion around 3 p.m.
Once inside, authorities found the bodies of two adults and two teenage children in their respective bedrooms. While investigators confirmed the home was being rented out by the Campbell family, they say a positive identification of the bodies would not be available for several days. Lusczynski did say, however, that the family is unaccounted for at this time.
It was also revealed at the press conference that two of the victims suffered upper body trauma, but the extent of those injuries and how they were caused is not yet known. No weapons were located as of now inside the home.
Lusczynski went on to say that the fire was started intentionally by an accelerant that has not been identified at this time. Also, various commercial fireworks were found inside which is what the loud explosions likely were that neighbors reported hearing during the blaze. She also said investigators are considering murder-suicide as a possibility as to what happened and that no one else in the community is believed to be in any danger.
Investigators are expected to be out at the scene for days trying to collect evidence.
10 News’ search of property records confirm former tennis player James Blake owns the 5,856 square-foot mansion at 16223 Sierra de Avila, inside the exclusive Avila Golf and Country Club.
We were able to reach a contact with the James Blake Foundation, who says Blake was not inside the house when the fire broke out. He had been renting the home to someone else.
Blake is a former professional tennis player, who at one point was the #1-ranked American in the world. Blake retired last year.