Hillsborough County
David Gee, Sheriff
Tampa, FL
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    Release Number: 14-173

    • For Immediate Release:
    • Public Information Office of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
    • May 8, 2014
    • Contact Person:
    • Public Information Office : piooffice@hcso.tampa.fl.us
    • 813/247-8060

    Residential House Fire

    Detectives have confirmed that four bodies were inside the residence at the time of the fire.
    • Wednesday
    • May 7, 2014
    • Time: 5:45 AM
    • 16223 Sierra De Avila
    • Tampa

    May 8, 2014 Update reference Residential Fire 16223 Sierra De Avila:

    Detectives responded back to the residence this morning to continue searching through the burnt out residence.

    It is undetermined when the autopsies will be completed.

    May 7, 2014 Update reference Residential Fire 16223 Sierra De Avila:

    On May 7, 2014 at approximately 3:00 p.m. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office entered the residence located at 16223 Sierra De Avila to begin the death investigation. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m.

    Detectives confirmed that four bodies (2 male and 2 female) were inside the residence at the time of the fire. Two of the four bodies had upper body trauma. It is believed that the fire was intentionally set and there were fireworks throughout the house.

    Detectives have confirmed with the homeowner, James Blake that he was subletting the residence to a Campbell family, however detectives have not confirmed the identities of the four individuals found in the residence.

    The four bodies were removed by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office in the late afternoon. Detectives searched through the burned out residence until nightfall and will resume the search on May 8, 2014.

    A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy was posted at the scene during the night.

    May 7, 2014 Four Bodies Discovered In Residential Fire:

    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.
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    Sheriff David Gee
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