TAMPA (FOX 13) -
Four people were found dead after a destructive fire ripped through a million-dollar home in the exclusive Tampa community of Avila early Wednesday morning, possibly set to cover up a crime.
The sheriff's office says the blaze started around 5:45 a.m., which is about when a neighbor called 911 to report an explosion.
"I was walking my dogs and I walked by the house and it exploded,” the frantic caller told the dispatcher.
As firefighters arrived to battle the flames, they found two bodies inside the home on Sierra De Avila. A third victim was discovered not long after.
The severity of the wind-whipped flames eventually drove firefighters back. There were also reports of gunshots, but officials said those could have been a result of commercial-grade fireworks that were found inside the house.
Various hotspots continued sparking into the late morning hours, making it difficult for investigators to gather any information.
"(The fire) is destroying potential evidence to tell us what may have happened, what may have led to this fire," HSCO Col. Donna Lusczynski said as the home continued to smolder nearby.
Around 1 p.m., a fourth body was found.
All victims were found in their respective bedrooms, deputies said. Two of them appeared to have suffered "upper body trauma."
Investigators believe the blaze was intentionally set, and an unspecified accelerant helped spread the flames.
The 5,856-square-foot home is owned by former pro tennis player James Blake, but neighbors said he has not lived there for some time and he had apparently been renting out the home.
Deputies were unable to immediately confirm the identities of the victims because scene was so badly damaged. But FOX 13 has learned that the victims included a family of four: Darrin Campbell, his wife Kim, and their children, Colin and Megan.
Darrin Campbell/Photo: LinkedIn
Campbell, 49, was a businessman who worked for corporations like Anchor Glass in Tampa. He had worked for brewing companies in Texas and Washington.
He was also treasurer of Carrollwood Day School where his teenage children were enrolled.
Colin was a senior at CDS; Megan was a freshman. Grief counselors were on hand for students there today.
Carrollwood Day Principal Ryan Kelly spoke briefly with reporters Wednesday afternoon, and said there was a pall over the school.
"Obviously, our hearts are broken at Carrollwood Day School. We are grieving as a community, and we have rallied around our students, and our faculty and our parents."
Avila is a gated community famous for its celebrities. Notable former and current Avila residents include: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Warren Sapp, Eddie DeBartolo, and Tony Dungy.
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