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Forum staff reports , Published May 07 2014

4 dead after fire destroys home of former tennis star James Blake

ORLANDO, Florida - Four people were found dead on Wednesday in a burning Tampa, Florida, mansion owned by former pro tennis player James Blake, police said.

Blake was not inside when firefighters arrived on Wednesday morning, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. Officials said Blake was renting the home to someone else.

"The fire has kept popping up," Carter said. Referring to the home, she added, "It's destroyed."

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

Firefighters told detectives they saw fireworks inside the property, according to a sheriff's statement.

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

An investigation by sheriff's investigators and the county fire marshal is under way 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.