GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of starting a fire that spread to his home and killed his family told detectives afterward he didn’t know what happened.

Robert Scales is standing trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of his wife Wanedia Scales, 35, and children Xavier Woldeab, 15, Robert Scales, Jr., 14, and Elijah Scales, 10.

Their home on Dawes Avenue SE, near the intersection of 28th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue, caught fire in the early hours of Feb. 5, 2020.

Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle testified Wednesday that it was smoke, not flames, that killed all four.

“Asphyxia by products of combustion,” Cohle told the court.

Wanedia Scales and Xavier died at the scene. Robert Jr. and Elijah died later at the hospital.

A photo of the Scales family. Robert Scales Sr.(back), Wanedia Scales (left) Robert Jr., Elijah (front), Xavier (right) (Courtesy)

Robert Scales came under suspicion after court records revealed his wife had filed for a personal protection order against him, claiming he threatened to burn down their home and kill her and the boys.

But prosecutors said they couldn’t prove the deaths were intentional, so they charged him with involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors say he started a fire in a burn pit just yards from the home and it spread to the house. He was at work when his family died.

In court Wednesday, the prosecution played a video of Scales speaking with detectives the day after the fire. In it, he said he had put the fire out before leaving for work.

“I don’t know what transpired after I left. Just a lot of (expletive) that don’t make sense to me,” he said.

The trial got underway Tuesday. Testimony was scheduled to resume Thursday morning.