Three volunteer firefighters from Suffolk County are under arrest and facing arson charges after police say they set five fires over a four-month span. Authorities say 19-year-old Austin Lehman, 25-year-old Stephen Hernandez and 27-year-old Shawn Key started fires in abandoned houses in Central Islip and Hauppauge between October and January.
All three are members of the Central Islip Fire Department. The three were charged in connection with fires at: –82 Gates Avenue in Central Islip on October 21 at approximately 6 a.m. –104 Vanderbilt Avenue in Central Islip on October 24 at approximately 5:20 a.m. –173 Gibbs Road in Central Islip on November 7 at approximately 5:50 a.m. –43 Oakdale Avenue in Central Islip on November 22 at approximately 2:20 a.m. –475 Bridge Road in Hauppauge on January 14 at approximately 3:40 a.m.
“They put their fellow members of the Central Islip Fire Department in grave jeopardy,” acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner said. “Responding to a structure fire is extremely dangerous, and what they did put their fellow firefighters in jeopardy.” No one was injured in any of the fires. Hernandez and Lehman are charged with five counts of third-degree arson.
Key is charged with third-degree arson for the fire on November 22. “We have been and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials throughout their investigation,” the Central Islip Fire Department said in a statement. “This is a very serious matter, and we are extremely shocked and disheartened to learn of these allegations.”