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Police: Fire at Florida home was arson; 4 dead


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The "unusual" fire at a Florida mansion belonging to a former tennis star was intentionally set and a family of four was discovered in the charred remains, police said Wednesday.

The victims were described as two adults and two teenage children, but they have not been positively identified, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski said. She described the fire as "unusual" and said there were "various fireworks" throughout the Tampa Bay-area home.

Two of the bodies appeared to have "upper body trauma," but she didn't indicate which ones or give any more details. She also said no weapons had been found.

Former tennis standout James Blake had been renting the home to the family for about the past two years, Lusczynski said. He was not there at the time of the fire.

4 Dead In Fire At Former Tennis Player James Blake's Florida Home

The home was in an upscale subdivision north of Tampa. Many sports stars and executives live in the neighborhood.

Hours after the fire was reported about Wednesday 6 a.m. EDT, firefighters were still at the more than 6,000-square foot home located north of downtown Tampa. Blake bought the home in the Avila subdivision in 2005 for $1.5 million, according to Hillsborough County property records. It had five bedrooms and five bathrooms. Video of the fire showed it totally engulfed in flames.

Lusczynski said the two teenagers were found in their respective bedrooms and the two adults were found in their bedroom.

Avila is an exclusive enclave known for its mansions and heavy security. Many well-known athletes call the community home and over the years, various football, baseball and tennis players have bought homes in the subdivision, which has a country club and golf course.

Blake, 34, was ranked fourth on the ATP world tour in 2006 before he retired last year. He also has the James Blake Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer research, in memory of his father who died of gastric cancer.


Follow Tamara Lush at https://twitter.com/tamaralush

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thomcit May 07 2014 at 5:20 PM

Hey "OLD GUYS", can't you (at least) try to behave like adults? I'm not joking.

Some would be expected from an immature 12 year old.

The small "window" of time for making intelligent comments seems to be between 5 pm and 8 pm. I'll assume that's the time interval when many of you sleep.

Based on your (1) inability to form a coherent sentence (2) general tendency to make immature, child-like comments (3) apparent inability to remain focused (4) lack of a normal inhibitory function which might explain your racist-tinged comments and (5) your apparent "Insomnia"...you are exhibiting some troubling signs.

I sincerely hope someone in your family has noticed this behavior. If so, I would urge them make an appointment with a physician who can evaluate you. Perhaps, they already have. If so, I sincerely hope that your are being closely monitored in a (somewhat) safer environment.

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cmihue5 May 07 2014 at 8:01 PM

who gives it sh(*&&* is 4 rich MF, how many kids are dying of hunger as we speak, and they are not news at all.

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4 replies
Jerry May 07 2014 at 8:13 PM


St.petersburg is not Tampa wrong byline

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HiBarbRayAndMeg May 07 2014 at 8:24 PM

Wait until fix news gets a hold of this story.. Fire, 4 dead.... There should be a way to connect this to the White House or Hillary.

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2 replies
Nac5660 HiBarbRayAndMeg May 07 2014 at 8:38 PM

Stupid comment. No regard for life except your political agenda. Go away please.

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cact25 HiBarbRayAndMeg May 08 2014 at 12:15 AM

Probably be Hannity that does it.

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txblkleon May 07 2014 at 8:25 PM

I wonder how many people that have read this article, have working smoke detectors in their home.

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1 reply
thorrsman txblkleon May 07 2014 at 9:04 PM

Since this was arson--and perhaps (almost certainly) murder as well--what difference does that make?

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1 reply
cact25 thorrsman May 08 2014 at 12:14 AM

If you ask such a dumb question, an explanation would just confuse you.

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bigao2 May 07 2014 at 8:26 PM

All of the comments below are cruel and terrible. Absolutely no regard for human life!

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retinaldoc May 07 2014 at 8:30 PM

Are you people idiots? How is this in any way, shape or form funny? You should be completely ashamed of yourselves.

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1 reply
cact25 retinaldoc May 08 2014 at 12:12 AM

Quite a large number of idiots. They don't know how to be ashamed of themselves.

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aljoramaggio May 07 2014 at 8:33 PM

Terrible, just terrible.
I guess we'll have to wait and find out if it was set by one of the occupants, or an outsider.

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1 reply
cact25 aljoramaggio May 08 2014 at 12:10 AM

Another inbreed heard from.

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mschievly May 07 2014 at 8:34 PM

sad commentary on society as a whole when a article such as this cld elicit the stupid comments it has ---a whole family was wiped out --adults and children…and snide comments are all one can muster---goes towards the saying, " if you have nothing intelligent to say, then say nothing at all"!

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mikeb563 May 07 2014 at 8:43 PM

People die in fires every day but never get in the news. what makes this guy so special. He wasn't even living in the house. but I'm sorry to hear four died. that's to bad.

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