Suffolk PD: 3 volunteer firefighters charged with arson

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From left to right: Stephen Hernandez, Austin Lehman and Shawn Key From left to right: Stephen Hernandez, Austin Lehman and Shawn Key
News 12 cameras recorded images of the Nov. 22 fire at 43 Oakdale Ave. News 12 cameras recorded images of the Nov. 22 fire at 43 Oakdale Ave.
CENTRAL ISLIP -

Suffolk police arrested three volunteer firefighters this week for allegedly starting fires in abandoned Central Islip and Hauppauge houses over a four-month span.

Investigators accuse Austin Lehman, Stephen Hernandez and Shawn Key of setting at least five houses on fire between October and January during early morning hours. Police say they turned around and helped put each of them out.

All three are members of the Central Islip Fire Department. Hernandez, 25, and Lehman, 19, both from Central Islip, face five counts each of third-degree arson. Key, a 27-year-old North Babylon resident, has been charged only in connection with the Nov. 22 fire at 43 Oakdale Ave. No one answered the doors of any of their homes when News 12 visited Tuesday.

The first happened at 82 Gates Ave. in Central Islip on Oct. 21. Then they allegedly lit up 104 Vanderbilt Ave. three days later. Lehman lives at 74 Vanderbilt Ave., according to police.

On Nov. 7, police say they set fire to 173 Gibbs Road. Then came the Oakdale Avenue fire on the day before Thanksgiving, and on Jan. 14, police say they moved into Hauppauge to strike at 475 Bridge Road.

Rich Vickers lives on Oakdale Avenue. He says his sister's surveillance camera captured a car pulling into the driveway 10 minutes before the fire.

"It only caught the bottom half of the guys," he says. "Two guys go around, left, then 10 minutes later it was fully engulfed."

No one was inside the homes at the times of the fires, police say, and no one was hurt.

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