TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A man found dead with his wife and two teenage children inside the million-dollar home they rented had bought fireworks days before the house was destroyed in an inferno, and a neighbor told a 911 dispatcher he heard firecrackers as the blaze burned.
Detectives have said they are not looking for suspects in the family’s deaths but stopped short of calling it a murder-suicide. Fireworks were found in parts of the house, authorities said. However, it’s not known exactly how the family died, who set the fire or what role the fireworks played in the blaze.
The home, which is owned by former tennis star James Blake, was engulfed in flames when firefighters responded Wednesday morning. Neighbors told police they heard explosions coming from it.
Blake was renting the house to the Campbell family and was not there at the time. Darrin Campbell had been an executive for several high-profile companies, including a senior vice president at PODS, a company that provides mobile, temporary shipping and storage containers.
Kimberly Campbell’s father, Gordon Lambie, described the family as close-knit and successful. Darrin Campbell had moved to Tampa more than 10 years ago to take a job with a glass container manufacturer, Lambie said.
Darrin Campbell was volunteering at his children’s private school, Carrollwood Day School, as the treasurer, an unpaid position. Kimberly Campbell was a stay-at-home mother.
Nineteen-year-old Colin Campbell was a talented baseball player who planned on graduating high school next month. His sister, 15-year-old Megan, took dance lessons.
“I’ve lost my entire family,” Lambie said from his Michigan home. “It’s very tough right now because I’m 1,500 miles away.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Col. Donna Lusczynski described the fire as unusual and said there were “various fireworks” throughout the home. Two victims suffered from upper-body trauma, but Lusczynski didn’t indicate which ones or provide other details. She also said no weapons had been found.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said autopsies were being performed Thursday.
“We are not looking for any suspects, not at this point in the investigation,” she said.
Darrin Campbell purchased the fireworks on Sunday, William Weimer, vice president of Phantom fireworks, said Thursday by telephone from the company’s Ohio headquarters.
Campbell bought six packages of small firecrackers and about that many packs of aerial fireworks designed to shoot into the air, said Weimer, who described them as backyard fireworks someone would shoot off on the Fourth of July.
He said the fireworks could have started a fire, but it would have spread slowly. The amount of powder inside the fireworks was smaller than the size of an aspirin, he said.
Neighbors described hearing the fireworks go off as the house burned.
“Geez. What is that popping noise?” a male neighbor said on a 911 call.
Another 911 caller, a security manager for the gated community, told dispatchers the fire was in the house’s garage.
Darrin and Kimberly met in Lansing, Michigan, when they both worked as legislative aides in the state legislature. Kimberly Campbell had graduated from Central Michigan University and Darrin Campbell had an MBA from the University of Michigan, Lambie said.
They had lived in San Antonio, Texas, where Darrin Campbell was an executive with Pearl Brewing Company before they moved to the Tampa area around 2001 so he could take a job with Anchor Glass Container Corp.
They sold their previous home but wanted to live in a place close to their children’s school, so they signed a two-year lease for Blake’s home, which was close enough for the teens to walk to school, Lambie said.
Police said the family had been living there for about two years. Neither deputies nor the Department of Children and Families had been called to the home, officials said.
A former neighbor, George Connley, said they were a nice family. He said that Kimberly Campbell was “sophisticated and classy.”
“We know nothing of any problems,” Connley said. “The kids were outstanding children. This is very difficult to put our arms around.”
Online, friends of the two teens expressed their grief in photos and tweets. Some students gathered Wednesday evening and released balloons with messages on them as a remembrance.
“Our hearts go out to the family in connection with this tragedy. We have grief counselors on site and we are rallying around our students, faculty, and families,” the school said in a statement.
At one time, Darrin Campbell was the senior vice president at PODS, a company that provides mobile, temporary shipping and storage containers. According to his LinkedIn profile, he left PODS in 2007 and was a vice president at IVANS, an insurance company.
IVANS was purchased by another company and Campbell no longer worked there, said Matt Fogt, a spokesman for the new company, Applied Systems.
The fire at the more-than-6,000-square-foot home north of downtown Tampa was reported about 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Blake bought the home in the Avila subdivision in 2005 for $1.5 million, according to Hillsborough County property records.
Avila is an exclusive enclave known for its mansions and heavy security. Many well-known athletes call the community home and over the years, various football, baseball and tennis players have bought homes in the subdivision, which has a country club and golf course.