HCSO: Avila mansion fire intentionally set; quadruple death investigation continues

TAMPA - The inferno that burned a home in Tampa’s Avila community where four people were found dead Wednesday appears to have been intentionally set, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Two adults and two teenagers were found in bedrooms of the home at 16223 Sierra de Avila, according to Colonel Donna Lusczynski. Two of them had “upper body trauma.” Investigators are waiting for a medical examiner to determine how the injuries were received.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News reporter Erick Waxler that detectives are not looking for any suspects at this point and have not ruled out the possibility of murder-suicide.

Although detectives haven't yet confirmed any identities, friends and neighbors suggested that the deceased are the Campbell family.

Darrin Campbell, the father, was a treasurer at Carrollwood Day School, according to Ryan Kelly, the school's principal. Students at the school identified the teenagers as siblings Colin and Megan Campbell and their mother as Kim Campbell.  (See full story at http://wfts.tv/1hzk1Ug)

On Thursday, Darrin Campbell's employer, Vastec, Inc., issued the following statement:

“On behalf of all in our organization we are greatly saddened to learn the news regarding our Chief Operating Officer, Darrin Campbell, and the Campbell family.  This is a difficult time for all involved and we are trying to cope with this news.   We extend our heartfelt sympathies to friends and family members during this time of grief.”

One teen who was driving out of Avlia told ABC Action News he knew the victims and was close with one of them.

"I was really good friends with him, he hasn't done anything to anyone ever, and the daughter, she was beautiful and their parents were great people. It's just so bad this happened," he said through tears.

A 911 call came in around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday to report an explosion and fire at the home. Other callers to emergency dispatchers said the fire started on the garage side of the house.

"This is so bad,” a caller said. “I was walking my dog and the house just exploded.”

Listen to 911 Call #1 | Listen to 911 Call #2 | Listen to 911 Call #3

The explosions may have been fireworks that investigators found spread across the house, said Lusczynski.

She also said an accelerant was used to set the fire.

It was extremely difficult to extinguish, said Lusczynski. Hot spots continued to burn all day, and at one point, the fire re-ignited inside the large home.

"It's in the back part of Avila... It's a massive home," said Nacole Revette, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough Fire Rescue.

All day Wednesday, firefighters watched for flare-ups.

Lusczynski said it may be Thursday before sheriff's detectives can gain access.

"Due to the magnitude of the structural damage caused by the fire, this investigation will be a slow, meticulous process," the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said in an afternoon release.

The home is owned by retired tennis star James Blake, who deputies said had been renting it out for two years. Blake was in Connecticut at the time of the fire and was told Wednesday morning about the tragedy.

Blake, 34, was ranked fourth on the ATP world tour in 2006. He also started the James Blake Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer research, in memory of his father who died of gastric cancer.

He bought the home in the Avila subdivision in 2005 for $1.5 million, according to Hillsborough County property records. The home was more than 6,000 square feet, with five bedrooms and five bathrooms.

The exclusive Avila neighborhood is home to several celebrities and famous athletes.

As part of the investigation, detectives interviewed neighbors, including former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy, to gather information. Deputies are also looking for surveillance video from nearby homes.

The deceased adults were found in the master bedroom, said Lusczynski. The teenagers were found in their respective bedrooms.

“On two of the victims there is upper body trauma,” she said, “but we are going to wait for the medical examiner on the exact cause of death and what those injuries were."

Investigators are considering the possibility the deaths are the result of a murder-suicide, she said, adding that no conclusions have yet been made.

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