What to Know
Three Suffolk County volunteer firefighters are facing criminal charges in connection to recent arson fires in New York, authorities say
The members of the Central Islip Fire Department were arrested for allegedly setting fires at abandoned houses in Central Islip, Hauppauge
The three men are accused of setting fires during a four-month span
Three Suffolk County volunteer firefighters are facing arson charges in connection to nearly a half-dozen recent fires in New York, authorities say.
Authorities said Central Islip firefighters Austin Lehman, 19, Stephen Hernandez, 25, and Shawn Key, 27, also put out the blazes they started at five abandoned houses in Central Islip and Hauppauge between October and January.
"The individuals involved responded to the fires," said an official at a news conference announcing the charges. "They put their fellow members of the Islip Fire Department in grave jeopardy."
Authorities said the trio started blazes at 82 Gates Ave. in Central Islip on Oct. 21, 104 Vanderbilt Ave. in Central Islip on Oct. 24, 173 Gibbs Road in Central Islip on Nov. 7, 43 Oakdale Ave. in Central Islip on Nov. 22 and 475 Bridge Road in Hauppauge on Jan. 14.
According to Suffolk County police, Lehman and Hernandez were charged with five counts of third-degree arson. Key was additionally charged with third-degree arson for the Nov. 22 fire. Police didn't have a motive for the fires.
"We have been and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials throughout their investigation. This is a very serious matter and we are extremely shocked and disheartened to learn of these allegations," said a representative for Central Islip Fire Department in a statement.
It was not immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment on the charges.