At approximately 5:45 a.m. on May 7, 2014, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fire responded to a residential fire. The 911 call stated that there had been an explosion and then they saw the fire.
Upon arrival, County Fire began extinguishing the fire. As they proceeded into the residence, they initially discovered two deceased individuals (unknown sex or age). As the morning progressed and County Fire continued with working the fire, they discovered a third deceased individual inside the residence.
County Fire has been working the fire for several hours as the over 6,000 square foot home continues to have areas that are smoldering.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives have been on scene conducting interviews with neighbors. Detectives have not been in the residence and will not enter until such time Hillsborough County Fire Department has deemed the residence structurally safe. It is undetermined when that will be. Once County Fire has completed their assessment, Hillsborough County Fire Marshall will enter the home to determine the cause of the fire.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of obtaining a search warrant to enter the home once County Fire Department and the Fire Marshall have completed their portion of the investigation.
At this time, investigators have confirmed that tennis player James Blake is the owner of the residence at 16223 Sierra De Avila. Investigators have contacted Mr. Blake and determined that he was not in the house and he was subletting the house to someone else.
While fighting the fire and performing a cursory search of the residence, Hillsborough County Fire Department stated to detectives that they observed fireworks inside the residence (it is undetermined what kind of fireworks and exactly where they were located).
As of 1:00 p.m. May 7, 2014, Hillsborough County Fire Department has discovered a 4th deceased individual inside the residence (unknown sex and age).
Since the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has not entered the residence to conduct our investigation, it would be premature to release any information as to the identity of the individuals inside the residence. We are not prepared to release the names of the individuals that were subletting the residence at this time until we have confirmed the identities of those found inside the residence.
Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office will take possession of the bodies once County Fire, Fire Marshall and Sheriff’s Office has completed their initial investigation. Positive identification will be made by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Due to the magnitude of the structural damage caused by the fire, this investigation will be a slow, meticulous process.