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Four dead in fire at Florida home of former tennis pro James Blake

Source: Reuters - Thu, 8 May 2014 01:10 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds details on cause of fire)

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla., May 7 (Reuters) - A blaze at the Tampa, Florida, mansion of former pro tennis player James Blake where four people were found dead on Wednesday is believed to have been set intentionally, police said.

No suspects have been identified, but fireworks were found throughout the house, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. She said the home was "destroyed."

Investigators have confirmed that Blake rented the property to someone else and was not there when firefighters arrived, police said.

"James was not in Florida yesterday. The house does belong to him, but it is rented," said Jennifer Bozzelli, a spokeswoman for IMG sports agency, which represents Blake.

A 911 caller reported an explosion and fire at the home at 5:45 a.m, a sheriff's department statement said. The house, in the exclusive Avila Golf and Country Club, continued to smolder Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators from the sheriff's department and the county fire marshal were trying to determine the cause of the blaze and how the four people died, officials said. The sheriff's department is still trying to identify the bodies.

Blake, 34, who retired in 2013, reached the semi-finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Editing by Kevin Gray, James Dalgleish, Mary Wisniewski and Eric Walsh)

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