MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Heartache is settling in for the family of four children killed in a South Memphis apartment fire, but their father says he wants to clear his name after the tragedy.

WREG had a chance to speak with the children’s father over the phone Thursday. He says he wants people to know he loved his children dearly and tried to protect them.

Family members have identified the victims as Marcus, Markese, Malaysia, and Makayla Walker. The oldest 5 and the youngest just 1 year old. The family says the children’s mother went out to run an errand.

Investigators say the children were home alone when the fire started. Their father was detained at the scene but later released.

Their father says he was talking to someone he calls the “rent man” when the fire started.

He was detained at the scene but later released. Police say no charges have been filed.

The children’s aunt also defended the father’s honor.

“I’m also the sister of the brother of the man who everybody accused of killing his own kids, which is so unfair and hurtful,” Tanjanica Dale said. “Instead of them looking at it within his eyes, that he just lost his kids, because what person wouldn’t fight and try to get they kids out of a house first — he’s not a firefighter.”

The children’s mother Precious Harvey made a social media post saying:

“God why didn’t you take me too”

“All I wanted was to be the best mama to my kids I was they superhero they safe place everything I normally can fix but this one I can’t. Ma so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry yall do ma a favor & fly high for me together like yall always been.”

Police say the investigation into the fire is ongoing.

The family has started a GoFundMe to cover any costs related to this tragedy.