HILLSBOROUGH (970 WFLA) – Hillsborough County deputies say four people were found dead after a house fire in the upscale Avila neighborhood.
According to the AP, authorities say the fire was intentionally set. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski said Wednesday that two adults and two teenagers were killed in the mansion, the AP reports, and that two of the bodies appeared to have “upper body trauma.”
It all began at approximately 5:45 a.m. Wednesday, when deputies say they and Hillsborough County firefighters responded to a residential fire on the 16000 block of Sierra de Avila.
When fire crews began putting out the blaze, deputies say they found two of the bodies. Later in the morning, deputies said firefighters found a third deceased individual, then later a fourth.
Firefighters were on scene for hours as the over 6,000 square foot home continued to have areas smoldering, according to authorities.
In the meantime, HCSO says deputies conducted interviews with neighbors and were working to get a search warrant. Detectives haven’t been in the residence and won’t go in until firefighters say it’s structurally safe.
HCSO officials say investigators have confirmed that tennis player James Blake is the owner of the home located at 16223 Sierra de Avila. HCSO officials also say investigators have contacted Mr. Blake and determined that he was not in the house and he was subletting the house to someone else.
Deputies say they are not prepared to release the names of the individuals that were subletting the residence at this time until they have confirmed the identities of those found inside the residence. Positive identification will be made by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office, according to HCSO.
While fighting the blaze, firefighters told detectives that they saw fireworks inside the home (it is undetermined what kind of fireworks and exactly where they were located).
Due to the magnitude of the structural damage caused by the fire, deputies say this investigation will be a slow, meticulous process.
Photo Credit HCSO