MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Power to an apartment where four children died in an electrical fire Wednesday had been turned off, but the family was still getting power from somewhere before the deadly fire.

Four children were killed in a fire Wednesday afternoon at a two-story apartment building at 469 East Alston in South Memphis. It was one of six units in the building.

Their mother was not at home at the time, and the children had been left in the care of their father, who was detained by police but released without charges.

The Memphis Fire Department intially said the cause of the fire at 469 Alston was due to “rigged” wiring, but Thursday, they called the fire accidental.

Memphis Light, Gas & Water said the power to the unit had been off since April. Before that, the tenant had been on a pre-payment plan.

A resident of the building said he didn’t know how the tenant was getting electricity — but she did have it.

“Since I have been here, when I was here her lights were on,” resident Carlos Cobb said. “I don’t know what’s the deal, if they were off or not. But when I was here, their apartment lights was on.”

Some residents told us about electrical problems at the complex. But the building’s owner, James Crawford, said he hadn’t received any complaints about electrical issues.  

“I have not gotten not one complaint regarding any electrical issues and it has been a long time since I had an electrician to come there to address anything along that line. So that is an abject lie,” Crawford said.

Shelby County Code Enforcement told WREG that an electrical permit was issued to the address in 2020 and there have been no electrical citations.

Crawford also says he was in the process of evicting the mother for non-payment of rent and had been to court just two weeks ago to start that.

He said the mother and her family were supposed to already be out, and he is sorry to see what happened to the children.

The fire started in a hallway between the bedroom and the kitchen. The kids were found in a back bedroom.

Their grandfather, Patrick Davis, identified the children as Marcus, Markese, Malaysia, and Makayla Walker. All were under the age of six.