James Blake's Mansion Destroyed by Fire, Dead Bodies Found at Scene

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2014

In this photo provided by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, flames destroy a mansion owned by former tennis star James Blake Wednesday May 7, 2014, in a gated community  in Tampa, Fla. Officials have confirmed that three bodies have been found in the home. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez says neighbors have told detectives that Blake hasn't lived in the house for a while and was renting it out. (AP Photo/Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Updates from Friday, May 16

ESPN's Staff, via the Associated Press, provides a statement from James Blake discussing the incident that occurred at his mansion last week. 

I was up here in Connecticut and heard the news the same way like everyone else, and it's just really a sad situation and I hope the police and whoever is investigating the situation keep me in the loop, just like they're keeping everyone in the loop.


It's a really sad situation. My heart and my prayers go out to the family that involved and I wish for the best.

ESPN also provided a further synopsis of Blake discussing the incident:

Retired tennis star James Blake said Thursday that he didn't know the family who died last week in the Florida home they were renting from him.  


Blake says his only contact with Darrin Campbell was 'a few emails for the lease agreement.' He said he never met any of the family face-to-face.


Original Text

Retired American tennis player James Blake's mansion in Tampa, Florida, caught fire on Wednesday morning, and authorities found four bodies in the aftermath.

Grayson Kamm of WTSP.com reported the news, indicating that the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but that fireworks were seen inside the home by firefighters on the scene.   

Blake was not in the house—located within the Avila Golf and Country Club—at the time of the fire and had been renting it to another person, according to Blake's agent (via Tampa Bay Times).

Authorities told the Tampa Bay Times, a neighbor called 911 at about 5:45 a.m. after hearing an explosion. The Hillsborough County Fire Rescue arrived shortly after at 16223 Sierra de Avila. 

Blake, 34, retired from tennis last year. He joined the ATP tour in 1999, was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, compiled a 366-256 record and won 10 titles and nearly $8 million in prize money during his career.

The Avila gated community is very exclusive and has heavy security. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Warren Sapp and Tony Dungy are among the prominent sports personalities that have homes in the community (via FOX 13 Tampa Bay).

Sports Illustrated's Jon Werthheim added what he knew about Blake and his family:

According to Kamm, the mansion was very large at 5,856 square feet. The identities of the four people have yet to be determined, and Kamm notes "crews continue to extinguish the fire as hot spots continue to pop up." The cause of death is also unclear at this time for the bodies that were found.

Kamm indicated that the sheriff's office is worried about losing evidence. The fire has damaged the house so severely, and it's still too dangerous for detectives to go inside to figure out what caused it. Conditions may not be safe enough for that until as late as Thursday.

This is a tragic situation, and the hope is that the fire is soon put out completely so that officials can commence their investigation as soon as possible to figure out what happened. The more time that elapses, the more difficult it will be to get to the bottom of the fire's genesis.

More information should come to light to determine for sure what exactly was at the root of the unfortunate occurrence. Until then, it isn't suitable to speculate, and thoughts go out to those impacted by this sad incident.