A 5,800-square-foot Tampa home belonging to retired tennis star James Blake went up in flames early this morning, and authorities confirm they have found four bodies inside. A spokesman for Blake's foundation told WTSP-TV that Blake was not at home at the time of the fire.
The fire broke out before 6 a.m. and has largely been brought under control, though fire rescue teams are still unable to enter some parts of the house. Early reports said responding fire rescue officials found two bodies inside the house, but minutes ago the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office put the death toll at three. It was later raised to four. TV reporter Meredyth Censullo, most recently of ABC, is sharing more details, as of now unconfirmed:
Officials confirmed they have received reports of gunshots, but cautioned that it could be from rounds going off in the fire.
Here's an aerial view of the house:
Blake, a former ATP World No. 4, retired from tennis last year. He purchased the home in Avila, a gated community in North Tampa, for $1.5 million in 2005. According to TBO.com, he was renting out the mansion at the time of the fire. An HCSO spokesman said they have not yet been able to reach Blake.
We'll update as more information becomes available.
Photo via Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office