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Sunday 21 September 2014

Four killed in blaze at mansion belonging to tennis star James Blake

Lizzie Dearden

Published 08/05/2014 | 09:50

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The mansion, owned by James Blake, was almost completely destroyed
Two adults and two teenagers were killed in a fire at mansion belonging to US tennis player James Blake (AP)
Two adults and two teenagers were killed in a fire at mansion belonging to US tennis player James Blake (AP)

Four people have died in a blaze, started by fireworks, at a Florida mansion belonging to former tennis player James Blake.

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The victims were described as two adults and two teenagers by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office.

Colonel Donna Lusczynski said that the fire, which started at about 6am local time on Wednesday, was unusual.

Several fireworks were found throughout the home in Tampa Bay and two of the victims had “upper-body trauma”, she said.

Police did not give any more details of their injuries, but said a murder-suicide was possible.

The teenagers' bodies were found in their respective bedrooms and the two adults were in one bedroom, Ms Lusczynski said.

Mr Blake did not live at the home and had been renting it out for the last two years.

His agent, Carlos Fleming, said the tennis player was not in Florida and declined to comment further.

Mr Blake, 34, reached a career-high world ranking of four in 2006 and retired from professional tennis last year.

He also started a charity, the James Blake Foundation, dedicated to cancer research in memory of his father, who died of gastric cancer.

Police said the remains had not been formally identified, but named the adults who had been renting the home as Darrin Campbell and his wife, Kimberly.

Meredith Censullo, a TV reporter at the scene said on Twitter that sources had told her that the victims had "heavy duty fireworks wrapped around their heads".

A former neighbour, George Connley, said Mr Campbell was the treasurer of Carrollwood Day School, a private school attended by the Campbell's teenage children, Colin and Megan.

“They were a very nice family, we know nothing of any problems,” he said. “The kids were outstanding children. This is very difficult to put our arms around.”

He described Mrs Campbell as “sophisticated and classy”.

Mr Blake bought the 6,000 sq foot home in the wealthy Avila area for $1.5 million (£885,000) in 2005, according to Hillsborough County property records.

It had five bedrooms and five bathrooms. Video footage of the fire showed it completely engulfed in flames.

Independent News Service

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